The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Boy Scouts for Uncle Sam, by John Henry
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Title: The Boy Scouts for Uncle Sam
Author: John Henry Goldfrap
Release Date: May 20, 2010 [eBook #32460]
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THE BOY SCOUTS FOR UNCLE SAM
LIEUT. HOWARD PAYSON
"The Boy Scouts of the Eagle Patrol," "The Boy Scouts
on the Range," "The Boy Scouts and the Army
Airship," "The Boy Scouts' Mountain Camp,"
"The Boy Scouts at the Panama Canal,"
[Illustration: Every eye watched the distant yacht anxiously.
_(Page 75)_ _(The Boy Scouts for Uncle Sam)_]
A. L. Burt Company
Publishers New York
Printed in U. S. A.
Hurst & Company
Made in U. S. A
I. THE EAGLES AT HOME 5
II. THE FACE AT THE TRANSOM 14
III. AN OCEAN DERELICT 26
IV. A MYSTERY OF THE SEA 36
V. A MESSAGE FROM THE PAST 46
VI. A STARTLING ADVENTURE 53
VII. TRAPPED BY FLAMES 61
VIII. A BOY SCOUT SIGNAL 69
IX. THE BOYS MEET A "WOLF" 76
X. A NEW RECRUIT 84
XI. BARTON THE MACHINIST 95
XII. THE SUBMARINE ISLAND 102
XIII. DOWN TO THE DEPTHS 112
XIV. FACING DEATH 120
XV. THE STRANGE FLAG 129
XVI. SCOUTING FOR UNCLE SAM 138
XVII. ROB'S BRAVE ACT 146
XVIII. THE ISLAND HUT 154
XIX. A CHASE IN THE NIGHT 163
XX. ON BOARD A STRANGE CRAFT 173
XXI. OFF ON A SEA TRAIL 182
XXII. A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE 190
XXIII. THE DEPTHS OF OLD OCEAN 198
XXIV. ROB MAKES A DISCOVERY 209
XXV. THE DEAD MAN'S HOARD 217
XXVI. WHICH WILL WIN? 228
XXVII. THE ENDURANCE RUN 238
XXVIII. THE SUPREME TEST 248
XXIX. INTO THE JAWS OF DEATH 263
The Boy Scouts for Uncle Sam
THE EAGLES AT HOME.
"After all, fellows, it's good to be back home again."
The speaker, Rob Blake, leader of the Eagle Patrol of Boy Scouts, spoke
with conviction. He was a "rangy," sun-burned lad of about eighteen,
clear-eyed, confident and wiry. His Boy Scout training, too, had made
him resourceful beyond his years.
"Yes, and it's also good to know that we each have a good substantial
sum of money in the bank as the result of the finding of the Dangerfield
fortune," agreed Merritt Crawford, his second in command, a
sunny-faced, good-natured looking youth a little younger than Rob and
crowned with a tousled mass of wavy brown hair.
"Well, at any rate we've had plenty to eat since we've been back,"
chimed in Tubby Hopkins, a corpulent youth who owed his nickname to his
"That's right, Tubby," laughed Paul Perkins, another bright-eyed young
"Eagle"; "that's something we didn't always get in the Adirondacks. I
thought at one time that you'd fade away to a shadow."
"Humph! Pretty substantial sort of shadow," grinned Hiram Nelson, who,
besides Paul Perkins, was the inventive genius of the Eagles.
The scene of these reminiscences was the comfortably furnished patrol
room of the Eagles, situated over the bank of the little town of Hampton
on the south shore of Long Island. Rob Blake's father, the president of
the bank, was a patron of the Eagles, and had donated the room to the
boys some time before.
Boxing gloves, foils, baseball bats and other athletic apparatus dear to
a boy's heart lay scattered about the room in orderly confusion. On the
walls were diagrams of the "wig-wag code" and the "Morse code
simplified," with other illustrations of Scout activities.
But it was above the door that there was perched the particular pride of
the Eagles' hearts--a huge American eagle, a bird fast disappearing from
its native haunts. With outstretched wings and defiant attitude it stood
there, typifying the spirit of its young namesakes. The eagle had been a
present to the lads from Lieutenant Duvall, of the United States Army,
whom they had materially aided some time before in various aerial
intrigues and adventures. What these were was related in full in the
"The Boy Scouts and the Army Airship."
In the first volume of this series, "The Boy Scouts of the Eagle
Patrol," it was told how the boys came to organize, and how they
succeeded in unravelling a kidnapping mystery, involving one of their
number. In the second volume, "The Boy Scouts on the Range," we followed
the boys' adventures in the far southwest. Here they encountered Moqui
Indians and renegade cow-punchers. But through all their hardships and
adventures they conducted themselves according to the Scout laws.
The third volume was "The Boy Scouts and the Army Airship," referred to
in connection with Lieutenant Duvall. In this book a military biplane
played an important part, as did the theft of a series of plans of a
gyroscope invention of Lieutenant Duvall's, who was an all-around
In the story that preceded the present account of the Eagle Patrol the
lads found themselves in the Adirondacks on a strange mission. With a
certain Major Dangerfield, a retired army officer, they searched for a
lost cave in which an old-time pirate, one of the Major's ancestors, had
hidden his loot when Indians threatened him. How the cave was located
and the startling discovery made there, we have not space to describe
here. But in the wildest part of the "land of woods and lakes" the boys
encountered some thrilling adventures, not the least of which was Rob's
battle with the moonshining gang that infested a lonely canyon.
From this trip they had returned not more than two weeks before the
scene in the meeting-room, which we have described, took place. Bronzed,
clear-eyed and alert, they were already longing for action of some sort.
How soon they were to be plunged into adventures of a variety even more
exciting than any they had yet encountered they little dreamed at the
- - - - -
They were still laughing over the idea of the substantial Tubby's rotund
form being compared to a shadow when there came a tap at the door of
the room in which they were assembled.
"Guess that's Andy Bowles," said Rob, referring to the only member of
the Patrol who was not present; "wonder why he's so late."
Then, in a louder voice, he cried:
"Come in, Andy."
But the voice that answered as the door was flung open was not Andy's.
Instead, it was a deep, resounding bass one.
"I'm not Andy; but I'll accept the invitation."
As the owner of the voice, a tall, well-set-up man with a military
bearing, stepped into the room all the Scouts sprang erect at attention,
and gave the Scout salute. Then they broke into three cheers.
"Why, Lieutenant Duvall, what are you doing here?" exclaimed Rob, coming
The young officer shook hands warmly with the leader of the Boy Scouts.
Then, while the others pressed closer to the lieutenant--the same
officer who had conducted the aviation tests at the "tunnelled
house"--he addressed Rob.
"The fact is, I came down here to see if you are willing to tackle some
more adventures," he said.
"Are we--" began Rob; but a roar from the Scouts interrupted him.
"Just you try us, Lieutenant."
"More adventures? Great stuff!"
"I'm ready right now."
"You can count on me."
The air fairly bubbled with confusion and excitement.
The Lieutenant roared with laughter.
"I do believe if you boys were told to lead a forlorn hope up to a row
of machine guns you'd do it," he exclaimed; "but all this time I've been
leaving my friend outside. May I bring him in?"
"Why ask the question?" exclaimed Rob. "This room is at the disposal of
the United States Army at any time."
"Well, in this case it must be at the disposal of the Navy also," smiled
the officer. Then, turning his head, he called to someone outside in the
hallway, "Dan, the Eagles are prepared to receive the Navy."
At the word, a stalwart young man of about Lieutenant Duvall's age,
stepped into the room. He was deeply sun-burned, and had an alert,
upright carriage that stamped him as belonging to Uncle Sam's service.
"Scouts of the Eagle Patrol," said Lieutenant Duvall, with becoming
formality, "allow me to present to you Ensign Daniel Hargreaves, of the
United States Navy, just now detailed on special service."
Once more came the Scout salute, and then, given with a will, the long
drawn "Kr-e-e-ee" of the Eagles.
The naval officer's eyes twinkled.
"These are Eagles that can scream with a vengeance," he exclaimed to his
"Yes; and they can show their talons on occasion, I can assure you,"
declared Lieutenant Duvall. "But 'heave ahead,' as you say in the Navy,
Dan, and put your proposition before them."
The boys greeted this announcement with wide-open eyes. Somehow or other
they felt impressed immediately that they were on the verge of another
series of important adventures; that the unexpected visit of the
officers had something to do with their immediate future. And in this
they were not the least bit out of the way, as will be seen.
THE FACE AT THE TRANSOM.
"Of course what I am going to say will be held strictly confidential?"
began Ensign Hargreaves, looking about him at the bright, eager faces of
the young Eagles.
"We are Boy Scouts, sir," responded Rob proudly.
"I beg your pardon; but what I am going to say is so important to the
nation that one word of it breathed abroad might cause endless
complications and the ruin of certain plans. I have come to see you
because my friend, Lieutenant Duvall, told me that he did not know
anywhere in the country of a band of boys of similar resourcefulness,
courage and high training."
"That's going some," whispered Tubby, behind a plump hand, to Merritt
"I said no more than they deserved, Dan," observed Lieutenant Duvall.
"So I should imagine from what you told me about the part they played in
the matter of the biplane and the tunnelled house," responded the young
officer. "I came to you for another reason, also," he went on reverting
to the subject in hand; "I have heard that as well as being land scouts
you are thoroughly at home on the water."
"Well," said Rob, "we've all of us been brought up here on the south
shore. I guess we are all fair sailors and know something about
sea-scouting as well as the land variety."
"It is mainly for that reason that I came to you," rejoined the naval
officer. "For the mission which I am desirous to have you undertake a
knowledge of sea conditions is essential."
"Gee! He's a long time coming to the point," mumbled Tubby impatiently.
"Have any of you boys ever heard of the 'Peacemaker submarine'?"
"So called because the nation possessing it would be so formidable as to
insure naval peace with other countries?" exclaimed Rob quickly. "Yes,
sir, I've heard of it."
"What has reached your ears about it?"
"Why, a week ago the papers said that a submarine of that type had been
sold to Russia and shipped for that country from the factory of the
inventor at Bridgeport, Connecticut," said Rob, with growing wonder as
to what all this could be leading.
"Correct. But that submarine never reached Russia!"
"Did the ship that was carrying it sink?" asked Tubby innocently.
"No," smiled the ensign, amused at the fat boy's goggling eyes and
intent expression; "the _Long Island_, the freighter conveying it, did
not sink. Instead, it hung about the coast, and then, under cover of
fog, slipped into the harbor of Snug Haven on the South Carolina coast.
Snug Haven is a small place and a sleepy one. Under the blanket of fog
the _Long Island_ slipped in, as I have said. Then the submarine was
hoisted overboard by means of a derrick, and under her own power run to
anchorage off a small island not far from Snug Haven. The captain and
crew of the _Long Island_ were sworn to secrecy, and so far as we know
not a soul, but those directly interested, is aware of the present
location of the _Peacemaker_."
"But why, if the submarine was sold to Russia, was she not sent there?"
inquired the mystified Rob.
"For the excellent reason that she was _not_ sold to Russia at all," was
the naval officer's rejoinder; "that was simply announced for the
benefit of inquisitive newspapers who have been trying for a long time
to get at the details of the 'Peacemaker submarine.' But it is not alone
the newspapers we have had trouble with. Foreign spies, anxious to
secure the _Peacemaker_ for their governments, have harassed us at
Bridgeport ever since the keel plates were laid."
"Then the United States has bought the submarine?" asked Merritt
"Not yet. But the construction and principles of it are so efficient
that Uncle Sam wishes to have first call on the craft."
"And you are going to test it at this lonely island in South Carolina?"
cried Rob, guessing the truth.
"Perfectly right, my boy," was the response. "Off that little-frequented
coast, beset with islands and shoals, we hope to carry out our tests
unobserved. At Bridgeport this would have been an impossibility, and for
that reason the story of the sale to Russia was concocted. Russia, I
may add, was about the only country not represented by spy service at
"And you say that nobody but the officials directly connected with the
craft has any knowledge of its whereabouts?" asked Rob with deep
"As far as it is humanly possible to be certain, such is our positive
"But where do we fit into all this?" sputtered Tubby, acutely coming to
the main point.
"I am coming to that," was the response. "From what I have told you, you
will have gathered that no ordinary class of watchmen could be trusted
to keep quiet about what is to go forward on the island. Yet it is
necessary to have sentries of some sort to keep constant watch that no
one approaches unexpectedly. For that purpose we have adopted various
mechanical precautions, such as submarine detector bells, etc. But our
main reliance must be on human intelligence."
"I see," said Rob, nodding. The object of the officer's visit was
beginning to dawn on him.
"To come straight to the point," went on the officer, "how would you
boys like to take a camping trip to the South Carolina coast on Uncle
"You mean to act as guards to the submarine?" almost shouted Rob.
"Just that," responded the officer. "I have----"
But a roar of cheers drowned any further remarks he might have had to
"I knew it would happen," cried Merritt when the riot had, in a measure,
"What?" demanded Tubby.
"Action!" responded Merritt briefly.
The hubbub grew tumultuous. All the Eagles were trying to talk at once.
The wonderful prospect opened up before them of fresh adventures fairly
set them wild.
At last, above the turmoil, Ensign Hargreaves managed to make his voice
"Boys! Boys!" he exclaimed, "one minute till I outline the plans."
A respectful silence at once ensued in which each Scout was prompt to
"Of course, it will be necessary for you to obtain written consent of
your parents," spoke the naval officer.
At this some of the faces in the room fell several degrees.
"The government will absolutely require such authority," he continued.
"The service on Barren Island, as it is called, while not necessarily
hazardous, may prove dangerous, and each boy's parents must be so
"We'll get plenty to eat, I suppose?" inquired Tubby anxiously.
"Why, of course," laughed the officer; "moreover, I forgot to inform you
that there is a wireless plant on the Island, and other conveniences
unusual in so remote a situation."
"Well, so long as the grub holds out, I'm satisfied," muttered Tubby in
a contented tone.
"How soon will we start, supposing our parents allow us to go?" asked
Rob, as soon as the laughter over Tubby's remark had subsided.
"At the end of this week if possible. Mr. Danbury Barr, the inventor of
the _Peacemaker_, will meet us in New York. We shall voyage south on the
U. S. Derelict Destroyer _Seneca_."
"Derelict Destroyer," repeated Rob. "Those are the craft that Uncle Sam
sends out to destroy drifting wrecks that might prove a menace to
navigation, aren't they?"
"Correct, my boy," rejoined the officer. "Our reason for making the
voyage on the _Seneca_," he continued, "is that no regular passenger
steamer makes a stop near Barren Island. Furthermore, if we went down on
a naval vessel some of these sharp reporters would be sure to make
inquiries, with the result that our retreat might be discovered."
"And that would be a serious matter?" put in Rob.
"Yes, very serious. Several nations are on the _qui vive_ to discover
just what the _Barr Peacemaker_ is. They have sent shrewd, cunning men,
versed in the art of espionage, to this country on that mission. These
men will stick at nothing to ferret out the secret if they can. Mr. Barr
has been approached with all sorts of offers. But he is a staunch
American to the backbone, as you will discover when you meet him. If
anyone is to have the _Peacemaker_ it is to be Uncle Sam, first,
foremost and all the time."
"Kree-e-ee-ee!" shrilled the Boy Scouts of the Eagle Patrol in unison.
The sharp, screaming note of the Eagle was still resounding when Merritt
uttered a startled cry, and pointed to the open transom above the door.
The others were still staring at him when he darted toward it and flung
the portal open. The passage beyond was empty, and the boy turned to his
companions with a puzzled look on his face.
"What's up, Merritt?" asked Rob.
"Seeing spooks?" inquired Tubby.
"Seeing nothing," snapped out Merritt; "I _saw_----"
"Saw what?" demanded Lieutenant Duvall.
"A face peering at us over that transom. It dodged into the darkness as
I looked up, but I saw it as plain as daylight."
Both officers bent forward almost breathlessly. Merritt's communication
appeared to affect them strangely.
"What kind of a face was it?" demanded Ensign Hargreaves.
"A wild looking one. Very pale, and fringed with dark whiskers."
The effect on the officers was electrical. They both sprang up and made
for the door followed by the puzzled Scouts.
"Was--was it anyone you know?" demanded Rob, as he paced beside
"Yes. From the description it was Berghoff, the spy of a powerful
European nation whose ambition it is to outgeneral all other powers on
the sea. We must apprehend him if possible. It is only too clear that he
followed us here from Washington and must have heard a great part of our
"Phew! This is action with a capital A!" gasped Rob as they ran down the
stairway and out into the lighted street.
But although a rigorous search was made and all trains watched, no trace
was found of Nordstrom Berghoff, the naval spy. It was surmised that he
must have made good his escape in a speedy "roadster" car in which he
had crept into Hampton earlier in the evening.
AN OCEAN DERELICT.
"What's that object off on the starboard bow, sir?"
It was a week after the events narrated in the preceding chapters, and
the _Seneca_, a converted gun-boat fitted with torpedo tubes for the
destruction of derelicts, was plowing her way southward through an azure
sea under a cloudless sky.
Rob Blake asked the question. In full Boy Scout Leader's uniform, and
wearing the different badges to which he was entitled, the young chief
of the Eagles stood on the _Seneca's_ bridge with Ensign Hargreaves and
Lieutenant Murray, who were in command of the destroyer.
"Jove, lad, you have sharp eyes!" exclaimed Lieutenant Murray. "Even the
lookout has not yet spied it. Let's see what it may be. Possibly it's
our 'meat'--food for our torpedoes."
"In that case the boys are in for a bit of excitement," said Ensign
"You think it is a derelict!" exclaimed Rob. "Oh, boys!" he called down
to the shady deck below, where the other lads lay reading or writing
letters or studying the Scout Manual, "we've sighted a derelict."
"An ocean hobo, eh?" hailed back Merritt.
"Hold on! Hold on! Not so fast!" laughed Lieutenant Murray.
He took his powerful naval binoculars from their case and carefully
focussed them on the dot which Rob's sharp eyes had espied at so great a
"You are right, Master Rob," he exclaimed the next instant; "it _is_ a
derelict, and a big one, too."
"And you are going to blow it up?" asked Rob, his voice quivering with
"That's our business, lad."
"Hooray! Boys, stand by for the fireworks!" shouted the delighted Rob.
The Boy Scouts, who had pretty well the run of the ship and were favored
alike by officers and men, came swarming upon the bridge. Lieutenant
Murray was adjusting the range finders and directing the quartermaster
at the wheel to change his course so as to bear down on the drifting
hulk. As they drew closer to the dismantled derelict they saw that, as
Lieutenant Murray had declared, she had been a large vessel. Stumps of
three masts rose from her decks above the broken bulwarks. Ends of
bleached and frayed-out shrouds hung from her fore, main, and mizzen
chains. From the look of her, she had been a considerable time adrift.
As she rolled slowly on the gentle swell they could see that her
underbody was green with seaweed and slime, the accumulation of years.
Amidships stood a small deck house, and at the bow a broken bowsprit
pointed heavenward as if invoking mercy on her forlorn condition.
"Why, she might have been drifting about since the time of Noah, to
judge by her looks," exclaimed Merritt, gazing at the odd sight.
"I have heard of derelicts that have followed the ocean currents for
fifty years and more," declared the Lieutenant. "This craft looks as if
she might date back that far. Certainly she has been a long time adrift.
Sailors sometimes become panic-stricken and leave their ships when there
is no real necessity for so doing. A case in point is that of Captain
Larsen of the _Two Sisters_, which sailed from Bath, Maine, for a West
Indian port. She was abandoned in a hurry after a hurricane, and the
captain and crew took to the boats. After drifting for weeks--they had
had time to provision the boats well--they arrived in Kingston, Jamaica,
and the first sight that greeted the captain's eyes was the hulk of the
_Two Sisters_. She had drifted close to the island and had been towed
in, arriving ahead of the crew that had forsaken her!"
"Hark!" cried Merritt, while they were still commenting on the
Lieutenant's story, "what was that?"
"Sounded like a bell tolling," exclaimed Rob.
"It is a bell!" cried Merritt.
Sure enough, borne over the gently heaving water, there came to their
ears the melancholy ding-dong of a deep-toned bell. Coming as it did
from the abandoned sea-riven hulk it cast a gloom over them.
"Who can be ringing it?" cried Tubby, in what was for him, an
"No mystery about it, I guess," said Lieutenant Murray; "it is the
ship's bell, and as the craft rolls it is ringing a requiem for the
"Ugh! It gives me the shudders!" exclaimed Hiram.
"It's not a cheerful sound certainly," agreed Rob.
"Bom-boom; bom-boom," chimed the bell, waxing now faint, now loud, as
the wind rose and fell.
"I'd like to go aboard that boat and explore her," declared Merritt.
"That's an opportunity you shall have," said the Lieutenant. "It is our
rule to explore all such derelicts for a hint as to the fate of their
crew before we consign them to the deep."
Orders were given to check the speed of the _Seneca_ and to prepare to
lower a boat.
"Are we to go?" chorused the Scouts eagerly.
"Of course. Mr. Hargreaves will accompany you."
"Aren't you going?" asked Rob.
"No. It's an old story with me. While we are waiting for you, I will
work out our position, which must go in with my report of the derelict's
Five minutes later, in one of the _Seneca's_ whale boats, the boys were
skimming over the sea toward the melancholy old derelict. As they glided
along, the bell kept up its monotonous booming with the regularity of a
shore bell summoning worshippers to church.
As the whaleboat was pulled around the derelict's stern they could see a
name painted on the square counter, surrounded with many a scroll and
flourish in the antique manner. These flourishes had once been gilded
and painted, but the gilt and color had long since worn off them.
"_Good Hope of Portland, Me._," read out Rob. "What a contrast between
her name and her fate!"
"Bom-boom," tolled the bell as if in answer to him.
"She must have been one of those old-time clippers that sailed round the
Horn with Yankee notions for the Spice Islands and China, and came back
with tea and other Oriental goods," opined Ensign Hargreaves.
"She was a fine ship in her day, sir," ventured the old quartermaster
who pulled stroke oar.
"Aye, aye, Tarbox; in those days the American mercantile marine was a
thing to be proud of," agreed the ensign. "To-day not one-tenth of the
craft that used to fly the Stars and Stripes remain afloat. They have
vanished and their keels sweep the sea no more."
By this time they had arrived below the derelict's port main chains.
From these several bleached ropes hung down, but all proved too rotten
to support the weight of a Boy Scout, let alone a man. But by good
fortune a chain, rusty, but still strong seemingly, depended from the
bows of the old craft. This withstood a test, and, led by Ensign
Hargreaves, the boys clambered on deck. Quartermaster Tarbox and the
four sailors who had manned the oars were left in the boat.
The boys' hearts beat a little faster as they stood on the forecastle of
the abandoned _Good Hope_. Nor was this caused by the exertion of the
climb altogether. There was something uncanny in standing upon that
long-untrodden deck, while right below the break in the forecastle the
bell kept up its doomsday-like tolling.
The ensign's first task was to make fast a lanyard to the clapper of the
dismal thing, and thereafter their nerves felt steadier. With the dying
out of the clamor of the bell, a death-like hush fell over the abandoned
ship. Only the rippling complaint of the water as she rolled to and fro
broke the stillness. The boys actually found themselves talking in
whispers under the spell that hung above the decks of the ill-fated
"Let us explore that deck house first," said Ensign Hargreaves, and,
followed by the boys, he started for the small structure which stood
just aft of the wreck of the foremast.
Little dreaming of the surprise that awaited them within, the boys
followed, on tip-toe with curiosity and excitement.
A MYSTERY OF THE SEA.
The door of the deck house was closed. But the ensign opened it without
difficulty, and with the boys pressing close on his heels he entered the
Hardly had he done so before he fell back with a sharp exclamation. The
next instant the boys echoed his interjection with a tone in which
horror mingled with surprise. Seated at a table in the cabin was what at
first appeared to be a man. But a second glance showed that, in reality,
the figure was a grim skeleton upheld by its posture and still bearing
mildewed and mouldy sea clothes.
"What a dreadful sight!" cried Rob, shivering, although the day was
"Poor fellow!" exclaimed the naval officer. "He must have perished just
as he sat. See, there is a paper under his hand, and there lies the pen
with which he had been writing."
He stepped forward to make a further examination, and the boys,
mastering their instinctive dread of the uncanny scene, also approached
The writing beneath the dead man's hand was on a fragment of paper,
yellowed with age and covered with scrawlings grown brown from the same
cause. Mastering his repugnance, the ensign took the paper from under
the skeleton's fingers that still rested upon it.
"What is it?" demanded Rob.
"Look at it for yourself," returned the officer after scrutinizing the
Thus addressed, Rob took the mouldy screed while his chums looked over
his shoulder curiously.
"Why, it's nothing but a mass of figures," he exclaimed.
"That is certainly so. Some sort of cipher, I suppose," struck in
"That's what it is, I imagine," agreed the ensign; "but see this cross
marked in red ink in the midst of the figures! What can that be intended
"If you don't mind, I'll try to figure this out sometime," said Rob.
"I'm rather fond of working cryptograms and such things. It will serve
to pass the time, too, when we reach the Island."
"That is perfectly agreeable to me," returned the officer. "If you can
make anything of it, it may serve to solve the mystery of this ship. For
that a mystery there is about the whole thing, I feel certain."
"It does seem uncanny, somehow," agreed Rob; "the posture of this man,
this strange writing! I wonder how he died?"
"Impossible to say," rejoined the officer; "but let us investigate
further. We may make some more discoveries."
"I hope we don't make any more finds of this character," rejoined Rob
with deep feeling.
Reverently and quietly they made their way out of the presence of the
Their next objective point was the poop of the vessel, where a high,
old-fashioned quarter-deck upreared itself above the main deck. Port
holes looked out from this, and the party of explorers rightly judged
that here had been the living-quarters of the ship's officers. A door of
heavily carved mahogany gave access to the space below the lofty
poop-deck. Pressing through this, they found themselves in a dark,
dingy-looking cuddy. The cushions of the lockers, which ranged along
each side, were green with mould and in the air hung the odor of decay.
A skylight above gave light to this chamber, and at its sides four
doors, two to a side, opened off.
"Those doors must lead to the staterooms of the former officers,"
declared the ensign, and a tour of inspection of the rooms was begun at
once. In the first three, after a thorough ransacking nothing more
interesting was to be found than some old sea chests, containing
garments and nautical instruments of antique pattern. In the last,
however, which bore traces of having been better furnished than the
others, there hung a crudely painted picture of a grizzled-looking
seaman, on whose breast hung conspicuously a gold image of a whale.
Apparently this was some sort of an emblem. But to Rob the portrait
presented a clew.
"Why, that same emblem hung on the uniform of the dead man in the
deckhouse!" he exclaimed.
"So it did," cried the ensign. "Boys, from the looks of it, this was the
cabin of the master of the ship, and yonder body, it is my firm belief,
But Merritt had stumbled upon another discovery. This was nothing more
than a large book, bound in leather. But to the ensign it seemed to be
apparently a highly important find.
"It's the ship's log-book," he exclaimed, pointing to the embossed words
on the cover. "Now perhaps we may light on a partial solution of this
He opened the book at the first page, and learned from the crabbed
writing with which it was covered, that the _Good Hope_, Ezekial T.
Daniels, master, had set sail from New Bedford for the South Pacific
whaling ground in April, 1879.
"Gracious, that was about thirty-three years ago," stammered Merritt.
"I have heard of derelicts that drifted longer than that," said the
naval officer calmly.
He began turning over the leaves of the log book. It was an epic of the
sea. Every incident that had befallen the _Good Hope_ on her long voyage
was faithfully set down. He skimmed through the records, reading the
most interesting bits of information out aloud for the benefit of his
From the log book it was learned that the _Good Hope_ had met with
indifferent luck on her long three years' cruise, but had suddenly run
into a most extraordinary bit of good fortune.
"Listen to this, boys," exclaimed the ensign with what, for one of his
self-contained nature, was strong excitement, "it reads like a bit of
Without further preface he began reading:
"'May, 1883--This day encountered the strangest thing in all my
experience. As set down, we have drifted into the Antarctic ice pack.
This day sighted a berg within which was a dark, shadowy object. On
going in the ship boats to investigate we saw to our amazement that the
said object was a ship. The ice surrounding it was thin, mostly having
"'From what I knew of such craft I decided, incredible as the idea
might seem, that the craft within the berg was a long frozen up Viking
ship. Not knowing just what her recovery might mean, I undertook to
blast her free of her prison. We had plenty of dynamite on board for the
very purpose of ice-blasting. By three of this p. m. we had the ship
blasted open. I and my officers at once entered the hole the explosive
had made in the craft's side. We expected to find strange things, but
none of us was prepared for what followed. The hold of the imprisoned
ship was full of ivory.
"'My first officer, William Clydesdale, an Englishman, and a college man
before strong drink ruined him, pronounced the ivory to be that of the
tusks of the extinct mammoths which scientists say formerly inhabited
"Phew! This is romance with a vengeance!" exclaimed Rob.
"Did they get the ivory?" asked the practical Paul Perkins.
"Yes," rejoined the officer, rapidly skimming over the further pages of
the log, "and they estimated the stuff roughly at about five hundred
thousand dollars' worth of exceptional quality."
"How did the ship get frozen in the ice?" asked Hiram. "The Viking ship,
"Who can tell," returned the ensign. "I have heard of such things at the
North Pole. Several explorers have even brought back fragments of the
Norseman's lost craft; but I never heard of such an occurrence
transpiring in the Antarctic regions. But let's read on."
The log continued to tell of hardships encountered in beating back
around the Horn with the valuable cargo; of discontent of the crew; of
their constant demand to have the hoard divided equally among the
officers and men, and of the captain's refusal to accede to their
requests. Finally the entries began to grow short and disconnected, as
if whoever was writing up the log was on constant watch and had little
time to spare. Indeed, one entry read:
"Mutiny threatens constantly. The men mean to seize the ivory and take
to the boats."
Following that no entries were made for several days. Then came a
startling announcement, both in its brevity and suggestiveness of
A MESSAGE FROM THE PAST
"'What I dreaded has come to pass,'" read out the ensign; "'the men
mutinied, but thanks be to Providence, we are safe. But a fearful
catastrophe overtook the misguided fellows. Short handed as we were,
having lost ten hands by scurvy and drowning in the South Seas, the crew
mustered but eight men. Thus, with my two officers, we were three
against them. The attack came at midnight on July 27th, 1883. Luckily we
were on the watch, and as the men came aft we met them with firearms.
Four went down at the first volley. Three died shortly, the other the
"'The remainder fled, but before I could stop them my officers had shot
down three, leaving only the cook alive. I saved his life. But as we
were examining the injured, one of them whipped out a knife and killed
my first officer. The next day we buried the dead and worked the ship as
best we could with three hands. Luckily the breeze was light, for in a
brisk blow we could not have handled the ship.
"'Finding ourselves off the coast of the Carolinas, and despairing of
navigating the ship to port, we ran in and anchored off a small desolate
island. On it grew a few scrub trees, but not much else. After a
consultation we decided to abandon the ship; but first we agreed, while
the weather was fair, to bury the ivory on one of the islands. It was a
long, tedious task, but at last it was done, and the spot where it had
been secreted, marked.
"'This done, we rowed back to the ship to obtain my chronometers,
papers, and so forth. I should have explained that we had but one boat,
heavy seas off the Horn having smashed four of them, and a fifth was
broken in a fight with a whale. I was some time below, getting papers,
when suddenly I heard a splash of oars. By some inspiration, I guessed
what had happened. Rushing on deck I was in time to behold my rascally
second mate and the cook rowing from the ship with might and main.
"'I shouted, entreated, and raged. But it was all in vain. All the
rascals did was to laugh at me. I might have guessed their terrible
purpose to maroon me on my own ship, but I had paid no heed to some
whispering I had observed between them while on the island working at
the burial of the ivory. All this has been written since they abandoned
me in so cowardly a fashion for the sake of the ivory. Their intent, I
readily guessed. They would reach the shore ahead of me. Find some
capital, get a ship and seize the whole cache. I count myself lucky that
they did not kill me outright.'"
By this time the boys were leaning forward, all else forgotten in the
thrilling interest of the extraordinary narrative.
The ensign read on.
"I find no more entries till several days later," he said, "then comes
"'Since last I wrote I have encountered a fearful experience. The night
succeeding the occasion on which the two villains left the ship, a
terrific gale came up off shore. Unable to reef sail single-handed, I
was compelled to cut the cable and head out for sea. For three days we
scudded before the gale. The canvas was torn to ribbons, and one after
another my masts went. I managed to cut the wreckage free with an axe.
+ + + + +
"'Some days later. What is happening to the ship? She is being drawn by
some strong but invisible current. There is no wind, but she is moving
fairly fast. What can be going to happen to me? One thing is sure, I am
out of the track of ocean vessels. Heaven help me, for I fear I am
beyond human aid!'"
"The poor fellow's mind evidently gave way soon after this," said the
ensign; "the entries grow disjointed and wild. He declares the cabin is
haunted. That the ghosts of the dead mutineers haunt the ship. At last
they cease abruptly with the words, 'God be merciful to me, I am going
A silence fell over the party in the dead mariner's cabin. The mystery,
the spell of the horror of it all, was strong upon them. In each lad's
mind was a vivid picture of the unfortunate captain held in the grip of
a strange current, being driven day by day further from the track of
ships, while his fevered mind pictured ghostly forms all about him.
"How do you suppose his death came?" asked Rob, after the silence had
endured some moments.
"I have an ugly suspicion which I shall soon verify," said the ensign;
"you boys wait here for a time."
Alone he reentered the deck-house, where sat the dead seaman. When he
returned his face was very grave.
"Boys, my suspicions were correct," he said; "by the man's side I found
a pistol. Undoubtedly, crazed by despair, he ended his life."
"After writing this strange paper?" asked Rob.
"Evidently. To judge from the jumble of figures, it was the product of
his poor, demented brain."
"If you don't mind, I'll keep it, though," said Rob. "I've an idea about
"In what way?"
"Why, that it may not be what you think, after all. It bears the
earmarks of an orderly cipher and is not scrawled at all as are the
final entries in the log book."
"That's right," agreed the ensign admiringly, "you Boy Scouts have
mighty keen minds. Well, my boy, keep it and study it at your leisure,
although I am free to confess that I cannot think of it otherwise than
in the way mentioned."
"Perhaps you are right," said Rob, "but I'll have a try at puzzling it
out, when I get time."
A STARTLING ADVENTURE.
During the conversation recorded none of the party had given much
thought to conditions outside. Now, when he stepped to the door of the
cabin, the ensign uttered a sharp cry of consternation.
"What's the matter?" asked Rob, as he approached.
"Matter enough. Look there!" was the rejoinder.
A dense white fog had come softly rolling up, and now the derelict _Good
Hope_ lay enwrapped in fleecy white clouds, thick and impenetrable.
"Well, we'll have to wait here in the boat till this clears off,"
declared Bob; "we could never find the _Seneca_ in this mess."
"That's the worst of it," rejoined the lieutenant, "there is no boat."
"No boat," echoed Rob uncomprehendingly; "but we came in one. It will be
waiting for us."
"No. I gave orders for the men to return to the _Seneca_ and bring over
a destructive mine, for I had determined to blow up this dangerous
menace to navigation. They have not returned, that is evident, or I
would have been notified. Boys, we are in a bad fix. I don't know how
fast this old hulk is drifting; but I imagine that if this keeps up much
longer, we shall fetch up a long way from the _Seneca's_ whereabouts."
"Can't they cruise about and find us?" asked Merritt rather piteously.
He was not a lad to underestimate the real seriousness of their position
on board the old hulk in the impenetrable fog that hung in blanket-like
wreaths everywhere about them.
In reply to the boy's question the ensign declared that it would be
impossible for the _Seneca_ to pick them up until the weather cleared,
"It would be risking the vessel to cruise about in this smother," he
said; "why, she'd be as likely to strike the _Good Hope_ as not!"
Rob's face grew long, though he did his best to make light of the
"Then we've got to picnic here till the fog clears off," he said.
"That's the case exactly, Rob," was the officer's rejoinder.
"But what are we going to picnic on?" inquired Tubby anxiously. "There's
no food or water on board, and we haven't brought any."
"There you go again. Always thinking of that precious tummy of yours,"
cried Hiram. "A little starving won't hurt you."
"Huh, just because you look like a human bean pole, you don't think
anyone has a right to be fat. You're jealous, that's what you are," was
the indignant reply of the fat youth.
Under other conditions there might have ensued a rough and tumble
battle; but just at this instant, through the fog, there came the
booming sound of a vessel's whistle.
The long bellow sounded through the white, all-enveloping mist
surrounding the old hulk and its young company of castaways.
"That's the _Seneca's_ whistle," exclaimed the ensign anxiously. "She's
calling for us."
"Gee! She must know that we can't come to her," exclaimed Paul Perkins.
"I guess she's 'standing by' till the fog lifts," rejoined the officer.
"We'll release the bell. That may help to locate us."
But instead of standing by, it became apparent, before long, that the
_Seneca_ was cruising about. The reason for supposing this was that the
next time they heard the hoot of the siren it sounded much further off.
The boys exchanged glances.
"How long do these fogs last, as a rule?" enquired Merritt.
"Impossible to say!" was the quick reply, with an anxious look about.
"If only we could get a slant of wind!"
But there was not a breath stirring. Only the _Good Hope_ swung to the
soft swells, lifting and falling with a hopeless, helpless sort of
motion. In fact, an experienced seaman could have told her waterlogged
condition by the very "heft and heave" of her, which was sluggish to a
"Well, I suppose we must make up our minds to spend some time here,"
said Rob, with another attempt to treat the matter lightly. "Goodness,
our adventures are surely beginning early this trip!"
The others could not help but agree with the young leader of the Eagles,
although they could hardly foresee the still more thrilling experiences
that lay just ahead of them.
"I would suggest," began the ensign presently, "I would suggest that we
search for some trace of food."
"Humph; mouldy ship's biscuits!" grunted Tubby half under his breath.
"Even if there are any on board, they must be rotten by this time. This
is a fine fix! Maybe we won't get any supper at all," and the fat boy
looked positively tragic over the dire prospect.
But although Tubby had spoken in a low tone, more to himself than to
anybody else, the ensign's sharp ears had overheard him.
"Young man," he said somewhat sternly, "if you want to be a good Boy
Scout you must learn to take hardships as they come."
"Even missing meals?" asked Tubby, in an injured voice.
"Yes, even that," repeated the young officer with a smile, which in the
Eagles' case was a perfect roar of laughter at Tubby's keen distress.
The fat boy strode off sullenly by himself, gazing at the fog as he went
in a very knowing way.
They searched the ship over for something that it would be possible to
eat; but not so much as a crumb of edible supplies did they find. In one
hold was discovered a number of barrels of "salt horse and pork," but
they were all dried up and unfit for human food. The same thing applied
to the biscuit kegs, and all the other supplies. It was out of the
question to think of touching any of them.
"Whatever are we going to do?" gasped Rob, a note of real alarm in his
voice for the first time.
The ensign's calmness served to steady all the boys a bit.
"Don't worry; everything will come out all right," he said; "we are in
the track of ships, and----"
"But in this dense fog, that fact make it all the more dangerous,"
declared Rob, and the young officer could not but answer him with a nod
in the affirmative.
"I can't help admitting that, my boy," was his further rejoinder; "all
we can do is to trust to Providence and hope that the fog will disappear
"Let's whistle for a wind," suggested Rob, who had heard of sailors
doing such a thing.
"Better than doing nothing. It will fill the time in, anyway," agreed
The boys squatted in a circle.
"What will we whistle?" asked Merritt.
"'Wait Till the Clouds Roll By,' of course," rejoined Rob.
As the plaintive notes came from the whistlers' puckered lips, Tubby
sauntered up, his hands in his tunic pockets.
"What are you doing?" he asked, staring at them, "gone crazy with the
heat, or what?"
"We're whistling for a wind," answered Merritt.
"Huh; why don't you whistle for grub?" demanded Tubby, turning on his
heel, and striding gloomily off once more.
TRAPPED BY FLAMES.
Night fell and found them still in the same plight. The fog had shut in
closer if anything. Since the last time they had caught the diminishing
sound of the _Seneca's_ siren, they had heard no sound from any vessel.
Others besides Tubby were hungry on board the _Good Hope_ that night.
Then, too, the thought of the tragedy that had been consummated on board
the derelict, and the gloom-inspiring presence of the silent figure in
the forward deck house, were not calculated to inspire cheerful
One thing they did have, and that was light. For in the course of their
investigation of the old hulk they had stumbled across several old
candle lanterns, the candles in which were still capable of burning. One
of these lanterns was lashed to the stump of the forward mast, but the
other was hung up in the cabin below. For it was in this latter place
that the little party of castaways gathered and tried, by telling
stories and cracking jokes, to keep their spirits in the ascendent.
But their efforts were not very successful. As the Scotch say, "It's ill
jesting on an empty stomach," and that is the malady from which they all
were suffering. Thirst did not as yet trouble them much, but they knew
that if they were not speedily picked up by some vessel, that would also
be added to their ordeal.
So the night passed away, with the castaways watching in turn for some
ray of hope of the fog lifting. It was soon after midnight, and in Rob's
watch, that a startling thing happened--something that brought his heart
into his mouths, and set his every nerve on vibrant edge.
The boy was sitting up forward, pondering the strangeness of the day's
happenings, when suddenly, right ahead of him, as it seemed, the fog was
split by the hoarse shriek of a steamer's whistle.
Rob's scalp tightened from alarm as he leaped for the lantern.
"Look out!" he shouted at the top of his voice; "look out!"
But for reply there only came back out of the dense smother ahead
another raucous call of the big steam whistle.
"Gracious! We'll be run down! We'll be sunk!" cried the boy, half wild
He shouted to his companions to come on deck; but before they could
obey, a huge, black bulk loomed up right above the derelict. Rob shouted
at the top of his voice. It seemed as if the _Good Hope_ would be cut in
two and that the steamer was also doomed to disaster if she struck.
Through the blackness flashed a green side-light, and then came the
rushing by of the great hull, with its rows of illuminated portholes.
Rob stood stock still. He was fairly rooted to the spot with panic. But
the big steamer raced by in the blackness and fog without anyone on
board her ever dreaming that she had been in such close proximity to the
As her stern lights flashed for an instant and then were shut out in the
fog, Rob's companions came rushing on deck.
"What is it? What has happened?" demanded the ensign, readily perceiving
that something very serious had occurred.
Rob, still shaky from his experience, related, as briefly as possible,
just what had caused his cry of alarm.
"Well, those liners take desperate chances," commented the officer; "had
they struck us, not only we, but they, would have been seriously
"Gee! I wish you could have found time to ask 'em to throw us some
sandwiches," said Tubby, rubbing his stomach; "I'm as empty as a dry
"I reckon we could all do with something to eat," chorused the other
The ensign bade them cheer up.
"By daylight we may have a wind, and then, with the fog gone, it won't
take long for some vessel to pick us up."
He spoke with a cheerfulness he was actually far from feeling. In fact,
his boyish listeners were not inclined to look hopefully on the
situation. By this time every one of them would have given almost all he
possessed for a big pitcher of cool ice water.
"I will take the remainder of your watch, Rob," said the ensign, with a
glance at his watch. "You only had a few minutes to serve anyway, and
the next round of duty is mine."
"Very well," said Rob; "to tell the truth, a nap would feel pretty good.
I hope things will have cleared by the time I wake up."
The boys went below, leaving the officer on the fog-circled deck. The
mist gleamed on everything, the rays of the candle-lamp making them
glisten as if water had been newly poured on them. Far off the hoarse
hooting of the ship that had so nearly run them down was to be heard.
"Narrow escape, that! Narrower than I quite care to admit, even to
myself," mused the young officer. "I wonder if those lads realize how
bad a fix we are in. I must confess I don't like the look of things at
He fell to pacing the deck, and then decided to have a cigar. For this
purpose he produced a perfecto from his pocket and lighted it. Then he
fell to pacing the deck once more, thinking deeply. His cigar finished,
he tossed it aside. Possibly it was his worry over their predicament
that made him absent-minded in this regard, but instead of observing the
rule of the sea to cast all such things overboard, he threw it to the
deck. A lurch of the _Good Hope_ caused the glowing butt of the cigar
to go rolling across the deck and to drop into the hold below.
It was some time later that Paul Perkins came on deck to take his turn
at the night vigil.
As he came forward he was startled to see what appeared to be a ghostly
figure, slightly darker than the fog, slip from the forward hold and
glide across the deck toward the ensign, who was pacing up and down.
Much startled, Paul called out aloud, and at the same instant a peculiar
acrid odor came to his nostrils.
"Something's burning!" he cried.
Simultaneously he had come up to the side of the hatch and saw that
smoke was pouring from it. What he had taken for a ghostly figure was a
whirl of smoke.
"Fire! Something's on fire below!" cried the boy, dashing forward.
The ensign reached the edge of the hold as quickly. Together they peered
over into the great open space below. Both involuntarily recoiled with
a cry of horror and alarm at what they saw.
The _Good Hope's_ hold was a mass of flames! To gaze into them was like
looking into a red hot furnace.
Adrift in a blinding fog, on a burning ship, and without boats, was a
predicament the like of which their adventurous lives had never before
The cigar so carelessly cast aside by the ensign had fallen upon a pile
of sacking, grease-soaked and inflammable, lying in the former whaler's
hold. Like all whale ships the timbers of the _Good Hope_ were literally
soaked with grease, the result of whale oil and blubber. Such timbers
burn like matchwood.
Small wonder that, brave man as he was, and schooled against emotional
display in the stern school of the Navy, the ensign should yet cry out:
"If help does not arrive, we are doomed to die like rats!"
A BOY SCOUT SIGNAL.
It was five minutes later that the whole company of castaways was
gathered around the hatchway. A red glare from below shone on their
faces, illuminating expressions of dismay and apprehension.
"What can we do?" gasped out Rob. "There are no boats, no means of
"We'll be burned to death," shuddered Paul Perkins.
All looked to the ensign for some suggestion. His tightly compressed
lips and drawn features suggested that he was thinking deeply, thinking
as men think whose very lives depend upon quick decision.
"We must put on the hatches," he said decisively; "there they lie
yonder. That will deprive the fire of oxygen and give us at least a few
hours before we have to vacate."
The coverings of the hatch, big, thick planks, lay not far away.
Evidently they lay just as they did on the day that the cargo of mammoth
tusks had been taken from the _Good Hope_ and hidden. Working with
feverish energy, the boys soon had the hatch covered tightly. But the
work had almost exhausted their strength. The fumes of the blazing hold
and the suffocating black smoke that rolled out, had almost caused them
Their desperate task accomplished, they lay panting on the deck,
incapable, for the time being, of further effort. However, with the
hatch in place and tightly dovetailed, there was a gleam of hope that
the flames might be smothered, or at least held in check till the fog
cleared and they could sight a vessel.
The first faint glimmering of dawn, shown by an increasing transparence
in the fog, found the derelict still lying inert. But a second later the
boys were on their feet with a cheer. A light breeze had sprung up and
the fog was agitated by it like drifting steam. Little by little the
breeze increased and the fog thinned out to mere wisps. The sun shone
through and disclosed a glimmering expanse of sea stretched all about.
But, to their bitter disappointment, the great heaving expanse was empty
of life. Not a sail or a sign of a steamer marred its lonely surface.
They exchanged dismayed looks. There was no knowing at what moment the
fiery, seething furnace beneath their very feet might break through and
force them to fight for their existence.
Already the decks were hot. Aside from this, however, so well did the
hatch fit that not even a wisp of smoke escaped. Except the extreme
heat, there was nothing to indicate that the interior of the _Good
Hope's_ hull was a fiery furnace.
The hours wore on, the little company of castaways dreading every moment
that what they feared might happen. Still no indication that the fire
was about to break through occurred. But their sufferings from thirst
were terrible. One after another the Boy Scouts sank to the decks in a
sort of coma. Rob, Merritt, and the ensign himself alone retained their
"If some vessel doesn't appear before long we are doomed."
It was Rob who spoke, and the mere fact that the others were silent
indicated plainly that they shared his opinion.
Despite their sufferings and anxiety a bright lookout was kept. It was
Rob who electrified them by a sudden shout:
"Look! Look out there to the north!"
"A sail!" shouted the ensign, springing to his feet.
"Yes. A steam yacht, rather! She's coming this way, too!"
"That's what. But how can we signal her? If she doesn't hurry she may be
"We can wave and shout!"
The ensign shook his head.
"She is too far off to see or hear us. Is there no other way to attract
A dozen plans were thought of and discarded. Then Rob spoke:
"I've thought of a way, but it's a desperate one."
"Never mind, what is it?"
"We will signal her in Boy Scout fashion. Maybe there is someone on
board who understands it."
The others looked puzzled. Rob hastened to explain.
"You all know the smoke column system of signalling?"
"I see what you mean!" shouted Merritt. "You mean to send up two
columns of smoke meaning 'Help! We are lost!'"
"But how is that possible?" demanded the ensign, with a puzzled
inflection in his tones. "We've got a whole ship full of smoke under us,
of course, but I don't see how we are going to utilize it in the way you
"I've thought it out," declared Rob modestly.
He produced his heavy-bladed scouting knife.
"Merritt, you take your knife and we'll cut two holes in the top of the
hatch. That will make two smoke columns, and if anyone on that yacht is
a Scout, they will come rushing at top speed toward us!"
"Jove! You boys are resourceful, indeed!" cried the ensign admiringly.
Without more ado the boys fell to work on their task. They cut the holes
about ten feet apart. It was hard work, but they stuck to it
perseveringly, and at last, from the two holes, two columns of black
smoke spouted up. Luckily for their plans the wind had, by this time,
moderated so much as to have fallen almost flat.
High into the heavens soared the two black columns of smoke like two
pillars of inky vapor.
Every eye watched the distant yacht anxiously. For five minutes the
anxiety was so intense that no one spoke. The pitch of expectancy was
Then came a great cry.
"They've seen our signal!" shouted Rob.
"Yes; look, she's changing her course. Look at the black smoke coming
from her funnel. She's making top speed to our rescue!" cried Merritt.
"Let's hope that she won't be too late," murmured the ensign under his
breath, and then aloud he cried:
"Three cheers for the Boy Scouts of the Eagle Patrol!"
THE BOYS MEET A "WOLF."
Faster and faster came the yacht. She was a large white craft, with a
yellow funnel and two rakish-looking masts, with light spidery rigging.
Between her masts was suspended a parallel sort of "antennae," wires
betokening that she carried wireless. At her bow the foam creamed up as
she rushed through the water on her errand of mercy.
With what anxiety those on the _Good Hope_ watched her, may be imagined.
Their eyes fairly burned as they regarded the race of their rescuers
against the fire which raged below them. For the two holes cut by Rob
and Merritt, while they had had the good effect of attracting aid, had
also had a less gratifying result.
Through them the air had been transmitted to the flaming mass below, and
flames were now shooting up through them and enlarging the openings
every instant. The air grew so fearfully hot that all were compelled to
beat a retreat to the extreme stern of the _Good Hope_.
Little was said as the yacht rounded up as close to the burning ship as
she dared, and lowered a boat. By this time clouds of black smoke, shot
with livid flames, were shooting skyward above the doomed craft. It was
a fortunate thing for the castaways that no wind was stirring or this
story might have had a different termination.
The boat was manned by sailors in white duck clothes and was guided by a
lad wearing the Boy Scout uniform. As soon as they saw this the boys
gave the cry of the Eagle Patrol. As the long drawn "Kree-ee-ee!" died
out, the boy in the stern stood erect and gave the Scout salute. Then
followed a long-drawn, growling shout:
"That's the cry of one of the Wolf Patrols!" cried Merritt.
"Yes; and that boy is a Wolf," declared Rob.
"Well, at all events he comes in sheep's clothing," the ensign could not
The next instant the boat was under the stern and the rescued castaways
were sliding down a rope into it. Hardly a word was spoken while this
was going on; the work in hand was too important.
But hardly had they all found places before, in an earnest voice, the
"Pull for your lives, men; spare no time."
"Why, you are safe enough now," declared the Wolf Scout.
"Far from it," declared the young officer seriously, "the log book of
that craft spoke of dynamite on board. They used it to blast their way
out of the polar ice. I think----"
A terrific concussion that threw them all from their seats interrupted
him. Then came a blinding flash, and this in turn was followed by an
explosion that seemed to shake the sea.
"Pull for your lives!" shouted the ensign to the alarmed sailors.
Dazed as they were, they lost no time in doing so, but even then
fragments of blazing wood and red-hot metal rained about them in a
downpour of great danger.
Luckily, however, none of the blazing fragments struck the boat. As soon
as they recovered their faculties, the boys gazed back at the spot where
the _Good Hope_ had last been seen. There was not a trace of her. The
dynamite had literally blown the ill-fated whaler out of existence. Only
oily pools remained on the surface to show the spot of her vanishing.
"I can easily see that you chaps have been through some thrilling
experiences," remarked the Wolf boy, whose name proved to be Donald
Grant, attached to the Wolf Patrol of the 14th New York City Troop.
"We have, indeed," rejoined Rob, "but we would rather defer the telling
of them till we arrive on board your yacht. What's her name?"
"The _Brigand_," was the reply; "we are on a cruise through the West
"The _Brigand_," echoed the ensign. "Isn't that J. P. Grant, the great
"Yes, he's my father," rejoined Donald simply; "he's on board. You'll be
glad to meet him, and I know he'll be delighted to welcome you and hear
"Did you recognize our signal as soon as you saw it?" inquired Rob.
"I sure did," responded Donald; "lucky you sent it up, too, as we were
on another course, and would not have passed near enough to see that
there was anyone on board what we thought was just an old hulk drifting
about the ocean."
"You'll be more interested still when you hear how we made the signals,"
spoke up Hiram.
"Well, I knew that the call meant that the necessity was urgent, and
although we were going slowly at the time we soon got under full speed.
Dad has been a bit sceptical about scouting, but I guess he'll admit
there's some good in it now."
"It was Scout lore that saved our lives," said the ensign quietly.
"Not a doubt of that," agreed Donald; "but here we are, almost alongside
The boys gazed up at the towering sides of the big yacht, at her
glittering brass work, and crowds of white-jacketed sailors gazing over
the side curiously. Astern a big bronzed man leaned over the rail gazing
down with equal interest. Rob recognized him instantly from pictures he
had seen of him in the papers, as Junius P. Grant, the "Wall Street
King," as he was called.
He greeted them with a wave of his hand.
"Welcome to the _Brigand_, young men," he hailed in a hearty tone; "you
have the Boy Scout idea to thank for your lives. Had my lad there been
five minutes later we'd have been too late to save you."
"That's true enough, sir," hailed back the ensign; "we all thank you
from the bottom of our hearts for your prompt relief work."
"The best thanks you can give me will be to come on board at once and
get washed up and partake of the best the _Brigand_ can provide," was
the pleasant reply.
"Yes; get on board, quick," urged Donald, as the gangway was lowered and
the boatmen shipped their oars, "you look about all in."
"We look like a lot of tramps, I guess you mean," laughed Rob, but for
all that he felt a bit ashamed of their appearance. They were covered
with grime from their fire-fighting experiences. Loss of sleep, hunger,
and exposure had drawn their cheeks and reddened their eyes. Altogether,
they looked very unlike the trim crew that had set out from the Derelict
Destroyer _Seneca_ only a comparatively short time before.
As soon as they arrived on board, they were turned over to the steward,
who provided them with quarters in which to spruce up. Everything on the
_Brigand_ was appointed as luxuriously as could be possible. This fact
rather added to the boys' embarrassment. But when half an hour after
their arrival they gathered about a splendidly appointed luncheon table,
their embarrassment turned to positive bashfulness. Never had any of
them felt so out of place. The ensign alone retained his
It was not till Mr. Grant had tactfully interested them in relating
their adventures, that they forgot their self-consciousness and ate and
drank during the narrative, like famished wolves--or Eagles.
A NEW RECRUIT.
It was about an hour after luncheon, which, naturally enough, with all
that had to be related, had been a rather protracted meal. The party of
which the Boy Scouts and their naval friend had so unexpectedly become
members was foregathered beneath the stern awning in comfortable wicker
The ensign was relating to Mr. Grant, under pledge of secrecy, some
details of the work which was expected to be accomplished on the lonely
island. Mr. Grant, who was intensely interested, agreed to put the
officer and his young charges ashore at Charleston or some convenient
port, provided the _Seneca_ could not be reached by wireless. The boys
were secretly hoping that this would prove impossible, that they might
protract their cruise on the _Brigand_.
Donald and the boys had instinctively become chums. The millionaire's
son was a manly, self-reliant sort of chap, with crisp, curly hair, and
blue eyes that could be merry or determined. Then, too, he was a
first-class Scout and deeply versed in Scout lore. In fact, the Eagles
were no more than a match for the knowledge of this young Wolf.
While the ensign and Mr. Grant chatted, they watched the youngsters with
interest. When Donald had carried them off to show them the _Brigand_
from stem to stern, as he expressed it, Mr. Grant laid down his cigar
and, turning to the ensign, said, with his customary abruptness:
"Could you use another Boy Scout on this work?"
"Well--I--really, I've hardly considered it," was the astonished
"If you could, I have one for you."
"You mean your son Donald?"
"Yes. He is a manly, fine lad, but he has been a little bit coddled by
his mother and sisters. Now he and these other boys appear to get along
famously, and they are just the sort of lads I should like my boy to
The naval officer nodded.
"I never saw or heard of such another lot of lads as those comprising
the Eagle Patrol," he said with emphasis; "although, of course," he
continued, "there are probably many such enrolled in the ranks of the
"I don't doubt it. Donald is a different lad already since he joined the
Wolf Patrol. Now this cruise of mine will be dull at best to the lad.
You see I am combining business with pleasure, and he will be thrown
much on his own resources. He has seen the West Indies before, so there
would not be much that is novel to him in the scenery or the people.
What do you say to my proposal?"
Cigar in hand, the great man of Wall Street paused for an answer,
knitting his famous black eyebrows as he did so.
"Why, if Donald is anxious to go, I don't see why it could not be
arranged," was the ensign's reply; "but why not ask the lad himself?"
"And your boys, too, of course," was the rejoinder; "they might object
to adding an outsider to their number."
"Not much fear of that," smiled the officer; "why, you would think they
had been lifelong friends. Hark at that!"
A merry peal of laughter came ringing from somewhere about the ship.
At this juncture, a young man in a natty uniform came hastening up. He
bore a slip of yellow paper which he respectfully handed to the Wall
"Ah, Collins,--Mr. Hargreaves, this is our wireless operator."
The ensign nodded while Mr. Grant gazed over the message.
"So you picked her up, eh, Collins?" he said, handing the message he had
just perused over to the ensign.
"Yes, sir. It appears that after missing the derelict in the fog the
_Seneca_ cruised in circles looking for her. She is now within ten miles
"So I see by this message," struck in the ensign; "we are fortunate not
to have drifted further."
"What do you wish to do?" inquired Mr. Grant.
"Naturally, to be transferred to my own ship, if you will be so kind."
Mr. Grant nodded.
"Collins, get our exact position from the captain, signal it to the
_Seneca_, and tell her we will lay off and on here till she arrives."
"Very well, sir," said the man of the wireless, with a bow.
He had hardly withdrawn when the boys came up, fresh from their
inspection of the _Brigand_. All were loud in praise of the craft,
especially Rob and Merritt.
"Would you rather cruise on this craft or go on the duty for Uncle Sam
which lies before you?" asked Mr. Grant quizzically.
The Boy Scouts drew themselves up.
"Why, sir, our duty to our country comes before pleasure," declared Rob,
acting as spokesman. "Cruising about is all right, but we Boy Scouts
like to be doing something useful for somebody else, but most of all for
Rob paused, rather alarmed at his temerity at thus addressing one of the
richest men in the world.
"So you think I am wasting my time cruising, eh?" said Mr. Grant
amusedly glancing at the upright, slender boy before him from under his
It was impossible to tell whether he was displeased or not. But Rob
decided not to recede from his position. He knew that the Boy Scouts
were supposed to be manly, self-reliant, and upright under all
conditions. So putting his fears of offending the man before him aside,
he spoke up boldly:
"It's different for you, sir. Your life work has raised your monument;
but I think, and I guess my Patrol agrees with me, that it is better for
boys to be on active duty and," he added, his eyes flashing and his
cheeks glowing, "especially such service as we are now going on.
It's--it's glorious," he concluded breathlessly.
"I think you are quite right, my boy," was the magnate's reply, a very
different one from the rejoinder Rob had dreaded.
"I hope you don't think me presumptuous or impudent," replied Rob, "but
you asked my opinion, and you know, sir, we Boy Scouts must always tell
the truth. Perhaps it seems a poor return after you saved our lives,
But Mr. Grant cut the boy short with a wave of the hand.
"Nonsense, all I did was to stand by and watch. If Donald had not
understood those smoke signals, you might not be on earth now. But in
return, I want to ask you to do something for him."
Rob nodded respectfully but said nothing. He wondered greatly what could
be coming next.
"I want you to take Donald with you on this duty for Uncle Sam. The
ensign here has agreed. Are you willing to make my son one of your
"Are we willing?" stammered out Rob. "Why, sir, we've just been
discussing what a shame it was that he had to go on a stupid old
cruise--I beg your pardon, on a cruise--when real work lay ahead,
But Donald had danced up to his father cheering and throwing his hat in
the air. Then he rushed up to his newly-found comrades and a
hand-shaking and "bear hugging" match ensued, such as is rarely seen
except among lads who are real companions, bound together by a common
Suddenly above the tumult Rob's voice sounded.
"Boys, let's give the cry of the Wolf Patrol!"
Instantly savage growls resounded, and after that the Eagles joined
hands, formed a circle about Donald, and danced a sort of war dance of
joy, concluding with the screaming cry of their Patrol.
Mr. Grant and Ensign Hargreaves smilingly watched this scene.
When something like order had been restored, the latter announced the
closeness of the _Seneca_.
This, too, was greeted with a cheer, which was cut short by the
reappearance of Collins.
"I've been talking with the _Seneca_, sir, and he says that they are
proceeding here at full speed."
"Good. That will do, unless you have any communications to make," said
Mr. Grant, turning to the ensign.
"No, sir, none whatever," was the reply.
It was ten minutes later when Rob's sharp eye descried a trail of smoke
on the horizon. A short time after, by the aid of glasses, the craft was
made out to be the _Seneca_, bound at full speed for the yacht. On the
latter's signal-halliards up went a gaudy string of signal flags
announcing her identity. The signal was answered from the Derelict
Destroyer, which also fired a gun in honor of the recovery of the
By midafternoon good-byes, warm and hearty, had been said, three ringing
cheers exchanged between the crews of both craft, and the _Brigand_ was
headed due south, while the _Seneca_ made in toward the coast. Long
before sunset both craft had vanished from each other's sight.
"So that was one derelict that Uncle Sam did not have to destroy,"
laughed Ensign Hargreaves to Lieutenant Murray as they stood side by
side on the bridge.
"No," rejoined the other, "she committed suicide; but if it hadn't been
for our young recruit, Donald, she wouldn't have gone to her grave
BARTON THE MACHINIST.
An island, a sandy, scantily grown spot of land, shaped like a splash of
gravy on a plate, loomed up over the _Seneca's_ bow. On it stood a shed,
two naked masts with wireless antennae strung between them, and some
tents, and that was all, except that, removed from the shed mentioned
above, was a similar and larger structure. This second structure was
built on piles right out over the sea, and as the coast of the island
declined abruptly at this point, there was considerable water under its
corrugated iron roof.
"So that's Barren Island?" asked Rob, who, with the boys and the two
officers, was standing on the bridge of the _Seneca_ regarding with the
most intense interest that desolate spot of land.
Beyond it lay other islands equally barren, so that applicability of the
name was not quite clear, while in the dim distance a faint blue line
betokened the Carolina coast.
"Yes, that is Barren Island," nodded Lieutenant Murray; "and strange as
it may seem, the hopes of the Naval Department are centered right at
this moment on that sandy patch yonder."
"Seems queer, doesn't it?" commented Merritt.
"Queer but safe," smiled Ensign Hargreaves.
"I'm aching to get ashore," exploded Donald eagerly. "Is that a powerful
"It is capable of sending up to three hundred miles on an average, and
more under favorable conditions," was the reply.
"What's in that big shed?" demanded someone.
"That houses the _Peacemaker_. The shore shelves off abruptly and the
submarine is housed under that roof in more than forty feet of water."
"And the other building?"
"A combination cook house and dining room."
"Shall we have lots to eat?" asked Tubby, his eyes glistening as he
"Plenty, I hope," rejoined the ensign smiling. "There is an ample stock
of provisions, and they will be received from the mainland as occasion
"But how shall we reach the mainland?"
"In a powerful motor boat," was the reply.
"Say, this is going to be a regular picnic. I thought you chaps said
hard work lay ahead of us," complained Donald.
"Don't worry," laughed Rob; "I guess we'll find lots to do."
"Never fear," struck in the ensign. "Besides the inventor of the
_Peacemaker_, Mr. Danbury Barr, and ourselves, there will be only three
trusted sailors, familiar with submarine work, to conduct the tests; so
you see that you boys will have your time well occupied."
"Are those tents for us?" asked Paul Perkins interestedly.
"Why, no. You brought your own camping outfits with you. I shall sleep
in one, Mr. Barr in another, while the third will be occupied by the
"And they are already there?" asked Rob.
"Watch," smiled Lieutenant Murray.
He seized the whistle cord and blew three resounding blasts.
Instantly, from the large shed referred to as housing the submarine,
four figures appeared, three wore sailor garb and the fourth, it could
be seen, was in overalls and shirt sleeves.
They waved and the boys cheered.
"I guess we'll drop anchor right here and take you ashore in a boat,"
said Lieutenant Murray.
The necessary orders were given, the chain roared out, and the _Seneca_
swung at anchor off Barren Island in twenty fathoms of water.
"Can we go down as deep as that in the _Peacemaker_?" inquired Rob.
"Deeper, much deeper," was the rejoinder; "we hope to go deeper than any
submarine has ever been before."
"Whoof!" exclaimed Donald.
"What's the trouble?" inquired Merritt.
"Oh, nothing; only it makes a fellow feel kind of creepy, that's all,"
was the rejoinder.
No sooner had the anchor been dropped, than a scene of great activity
ensued. The wireless operator of the _Seneca_ was flashing signals back
and forth with the shore station, and sailors were piling Boy Scout
equipment into one of the boats while another was lowered for the
passengers. Donald had his own outfit, it having been on board the
_Brigand_ when he transferred to the _Seneca_. Although he was the son
of one of the richest men in the world, it in no wise differed from the
other lads' outfits, except that it had not seen such hard service as
theirs had been through.
At last all was ready, good-byes were said, and not without some regret
the Boy Scouts left their kind friends of the _Seneca_ behind. Ashore a
warm welcome greeted them. Mr. Danbury Barr proved to be a tall, lean
individual with a prominent, thin-bridged nose, and sharp, gray eyes
with all the keenness of a hawk in them. His skin was burned a deep
golden brown by his sojourn on the island while getting his craft in
readiness for the tests. Like most inventors he had not much to say, but
seemed to be agreeable and glad to see the newcomers.
The three sailors, as became them in the presence of an officer, stood
respectfully back without saying anything, only drawing up and saluting.
But this was not the case with a man who has not yet been mentioned.
This was an individual named Luke Barton. He was Mr. Barr's expert
machinist and mechanical superintendent. Rob took an instinctive dislike
to the fellow. Not that there was anything actually repulsive about him.
On the contrary, he was a well-set-up chap of about thirty-five, dark
haired and mustached; but it was something shifty in the fellow's eyes
that made Rob distrust him. This impression was not removed when he
asked of Mr. Barr, in a voice by no means an undertone:
"What's this parcel of kids doing here? Looks like a Sunday school
Mr. Barr explained.
"Oh, a bunch of kid tin soldiers," he sneered, and strode off swinging a
big monkey wrench. Right then and there Rob's instinctive dislike of the
man crystallized into a feeling of distrust. He felt sure that the
fellow had some reason to resent the presence of the Boy Scouts.
Mr. Barr made no comment on his assistant's remarks, doubtless not
thinking that they had been overheard. In fact, the rest of the party,
except Rob, had been standing at some little distance when the fellow
uttered his sneering jibes.
THE SUBMARINE ISLAND.
Under Mr. Barr's guidance the party toured the island. It was about half
a mile across and slightly longer than its width. Coarse grass grew
almost to the water's edge, and in the centre, where it rose in a
cone-shaped formation, some stunted, wind-twisted bushes grew. Also on
the summit was a driven well, which was formed of galvanized piping, and
went down, so the boys were informed, for more than two hundred feet.
But to the lads of the Eagle Patrol the most interesting thing on the
island was, of course, the shed that housed the submarine. This shed was
open at both ends, and under its iron roof lay the submarine craft.
Lying as it did, with only its rounded back showing above the surface of
the water, it reminded the boys of a sleeping whale.
On the top of it, amidships, was the conning tower, with thick glass
lenses for observation. From the conning tower also protruded the
periscope, an instrument which enabled the operators of the craft to see
the ocean about them even when submerged some twenty feet below the
A stout rail ran around the top of the hull so as to allow the crew to
walk along the slippery decks without danger of going overboard. But it
was the interior that the boys were most anxious to see, and a glad rush
followed when Mr. Barr invited them on board. Access to the conning
tower was gained by a gang plank running from the side of the shed.
Reaching the conning tower, with a press of eager lads about him, Mr.
Barr threw open a metal door in the top of the observation post, and
climbed inside. The boys needed no invitation to follow him.
Inside they found themselves in a compartment much resembling the
wheelhouse of an ordinary surface craft, except that there were various
instruments to show submergence, and the quality and pressure of the
air, and devices for handling the engines; for one of the features of
Mr. Barr's invention was that it could be handled by one man once the
engines were going.
Leaving the conning tower, they descended a steel ladder into the heart
of the submarine. The centre was occupied by a comfortably fitted-up
room which contained, among other things, a small library and a
phonograph. The inventor switched on a button and the "cabin," as it may
be called, was instantaneously flooded with a soft light, bright but not
glaring. In the bulkheads at either end of this compartment were doors,
steel riveted and solid looking. The inventor explained that beyond the
stern one were located the engine room and crew's quarters, while on the
other side of the forward portal lay the sleeping quarters, galley or
kitchen, and bathroom. Beyond these again came the torpedo room, which
contained the machinery for launching the death-dealers. Each of these
was inspected in turn, the boys being delighted with the compactness and
neatness of everything.
"Now," said the inventor, "we will visit the engine room." Paul Perkins
and Hiram looked interested; machinery was one of their hobbies.
The _Peacemaker_ carried two sets of engines, electrical for running
under the surface, and gasoline for use above water. The engines were
fitted tandem-wise, and to their shafts were attached twin screws of a
novel design that gave great speed and controlled the submarine easily.
The gasoline engines were of fifteen hundred horse-power each, and the
electrical had a trifle lower capacity.
In the engine room, too, were the powerful pumps used for emptying or
filling the submarine's submergence tanks as it was desired to rise or
descend. Aft of the engine room came the gasoline tanks, the storage
batteries, and some minor machinery, such as an ice-making plant, air
compressor, and so on. In the engine room, too, was a comfortable
upholstered lounge for the engineer on duty to rest upon. Several dials
and gauges were on the walls of this compartment, enabling the engineer
to know at all times under just what conditions the submarine was
It was in the engines themselves that the inventor had excelled all
other types of submarines, as well as in the peculiar attributes of the
hull. Extra tanks were provided whereby, in the event of the main supply
of gasoline giving out at any time, the _Peacemaker_ could be run quite
a distance on those alone.
"How long could you stay below the surface?" asked Rob, as they came
back into the main cabin once more. There they took their seats on broad
leather divans which at night time could be converted into beds or bunks
by pulling a lever which caused them to turn over and reveal a snug
"I have not yet made an exhaustive test of that," rejoined Mr. Barr,
"but I estimate that we could remain below, if necessary, forty-eight
"Forty-eight hours!" gasped Rob incredulously.
The inventor nodded calmly.
"My air purifying device makes this supposable. I have a plan by which
fresh, pure air is almost manufactured. At the same time the foul air is
"I suppose you boys are aching to take a trip," laughed Ensign
"Aching is no word for it," Rob assured him.
"Well, you may have a chance to-morrow," said Mr. Barr; "I am going to
test out the whole craft thoroughly, and you boys can come along if I
For the next five minutes nothing could be heard but enthusiastic
shouts. The boys fairly went wild with delight at the prospect of a trip
below the ocean's surface. Soon afterward the party emerged from the
submarine in time to see the _Seneca_ making out to sea on her return
journey. She carried letters from the boys to their families, as they
were by no means sure when they would get the next opportunity of
sending a letter north.
The next hour was occupied in making camp. Then the Stars and Stripes
and the Eagle banner went up. Donald had no Wolf banner with him, but
above his tent he hung up something that resembled a wolf's head,
painted on a bit of canvas.
"Looks more like a chicken than a wolf," scornfully sniffed Tubby when
he saw it.
"You couldn't think of anything but something good to eat, could you?"
was Donald's crushing reply.
By the time camp had been made and everything placed neatly in order,
Andy Bowles, on Ensign Hargreaves' order, sounded the dinner call.
"That's the call that Tubby never forgets," laughed Rob, as the stout
lad cantered off in the direction of the combination dining hall and
cook house above mentioned.
They found a bare, pine table, scrubbed scrupulously clean and set with
metal plates and cups. Lieutenant Hargreaves showed each boy to his
seat, while he and the inventor sat at opposite ends of the board. The
sailors, and the machinist who had impressed Rob so unfavorably, ate
The cook, a stout, good-natured looking negro, came bustling in with a
huge bucket-like pan full of steaming soup. Tubby's eyes glistened as
he saw it, and soon he was piling in prodigious quantities of it. The
soup was followed by salt beef, potatoes, and other vegetables, and then
came a big wedge of cocoanut pie.
"We get fresh meat fairly often," explained Mr. Barr, "but the launch
has not been to the mainland recently, so we have to get along on what
sailors call 'Willie'."
"Isn't there game of any kind hereabouts?" asked Rob.
"Oh, yes. There are several shore birds of different varieties, but we
have really been too busy of late to go after them. Now that you boys
have come, however, you can take out my shot guns--I have three of
them--and see what you can do as hunters."
"Are the shore birds good eating?" inquired Tubby with his mouth full of
"Yes, Master Hopkins. Epicures, in fact, declare that there is no better
dish than roasted plovers."
"I'll take one of the guns," declared Tubby, his eyes glistening, as,
even his appetite satisfied for the while, he sank back in his chair.
As they filed out of the dining hall the negro cook announced to the
sailors and the mechanic, by means of a big bell, that it was time for
them to eat.
Rob, on his way to the camp, happened to pass by Luke Barton. He greeted
the latter with a cheery nod.
"Going to eat, Barton?" he inquired.
The man glowered at him a minute, and then muttering something about
"fresh kids eating up everything," he strode on toward the eating place.
"My gracious," exclaimed Tubby, who had witnessed the whole proceeding,
"you and that fellow get along like a pair of panthers, don't you?"
DOWN TO THE DEPTHS.
It was the following morning, a bright, clear day, with a clean swept
sky overhead, and seaward, the waves whipping up into smart little
whitecaps under a brisk breeze. Breakfast was over, the Boy Scouts'
bugle had sounded an assembly call, and now all were eagerly mustered
about the submarine shed awaiting Mr. Barr's arrival and permission to
go on board the _Peacemaker_.
True to his promise, the inventor had decided to make the boys
participants in the trial trip of the slate-colored diving boat.
Presently he appeared, accompanied by Ensign Hargreaves. Ten minutes
later the chatting, laughing party was on board the _Peacemaker_, and
half an hour after that she was pronounced ready for the start. Mr. Barr
took his place in the conning tower with Ensign Hargreaves beside him.
Barton was in the engine room, sullen and uncommunicative as usual. Rob
and Merritt were on deck with one of the sailors, delegated to the duty
of casting off the diving boat's lines.
At last came the word from the conning tower:
Rob seized a rope and cast off from the stern bitts, while the sailor
performed the same operation at the bow.
"Must we come inside now?" inquired Rob, through the open hatch of the
"Not yet; unless you wish to. I will notify you before we dive," was Mr.
"Goodness, I hope he doesn't forget," said Rob laughingly, as the
inventor turned on a switch and started the engines. The cigar-shaped
form of the craft trembled as the powerful twin propellers beat the
water. Then, handling as perfectly as a catboat, she backed slowly out
of the shed and on to the open sea.
Once outside the shed, her helmsman headed the craft about and made
directly east. To Rob and Merritt, standing on the deck, the sensation
was a thrilling one. Faster and faster the craft was driven till great
clouds of spray compelled the two lads to seek refuge in the conning
Inside the boat the hum of machinery and the vibration of the powerful
engines could be plainly distinguished. Rob glanced at the speed
indicator on the steel wall of the "pilot house."
"Twenty-five knots! Phew! that's going some," he gasped.
"She can make thirty-two on the surface and twenty-one under water,"
said the inventor calmly.
As he spoke, he drew a lever toward him and the _Peacemaker_ appeared to
leap forward like a horse under the lash.
Rob watched the handle of the indicator as it sped slowly around the
dial. Up and up it crept till it stopped at thirty-two knots and a half.
"Jove! Barr," exclaimed the ensign, "this is the wonder craft of the
"I think I could get even more speed out of her, but I don't wish to
strain the engines," was the confident reply.
"This is fast enough for me, thank you," said Rob to Merritt in an
From the conning tower lens the _Peacemaker_ appeared to be rushing
between two solid walls of water, so great was the quantity of spray she
threw as she was remorselessly driven through the choppy sea. Yet the
vibration was not nearly as bad as might have been expected.
"Let's go below and take a look at the engine room," said Merritt.
"All right; but I'll ask Mr. Barr's permission first," was Rob's
This was readily obtained, and the two boys went below. They found
their comrades gathered in the large central cabin, excitedly discussing
the novelty of their voyage. Passing them, the young leader and his
lieutenant made their way back into the machinery department. Barton
glowered at them as they entered.
"Well, what d'ye want?" he asked gruffly.
"Merely to have a look at the engines," said Rob.
"Aw, what do you know about engines?" growled the man. "You ain't got no
business in here."
"We have Mr. Barr's permission," rejoined Rob in a calm, even tone,
determined not to let the fellow make him angry.
"Well, take a look around and get out quick," was the ungracious reply
of the surly fellow.
Rob thought it best not to answer him, and arm in arm he and Merritt
wandered among the flashing, smoothly working machinery, which, despite
its size and power, was almost noiseless. Whatever his failings might be
in the way of politeness, Barton must have been a good engineer, the
boys decided, for every bit of metal and paintwork about the engines was
polished to a brilliant finish, and the engine room was as neat as a new
Rob was examining the powerful pumps when his eye suddenly fell on a bit
of paper lying on the floor. He picked it up, prompted by he knew not
what instinct, and found that it was covered with minute sketches,
apparently of machinery. The sketches were numbered and lettered, as if
they had been "keyed" for the purpose of making the diagram clearer.
He was still examining the sketches when there was a swift step behind
him and a heavy hand fell on his shoulder. Rob, facing about, looked
into Barton's face. The engineer's countenance was livid, his eyes
"Give me that paper, you young jackanapes!" he exclaimed, "and then get
out of here--quick!"
"As to giving you the paper, here you are," said Rob, quietly handing
the engineer the mechanical sketches. "If I'd known they were yours, I'd
have returned them to you at once. I must ask you, however, to be a
little less rough in your manners. I don't know what harm we've ever
done you, that you should show such a dislike for us."
"Bah!" growled Barton as he turned away, thrusting the paper into a
pocket of his jumper.
After this incident neither of the boys cared to remain in the engine
room, and soon joined their companions in the main cabin.
They found them chatting and laughing over different boyish topics, and
Merritt joined in the fun.
But Rob, usually talkative and bright, was strangely silent. He found
himself musing over the incident of the scrap of paper covered with
mechanical sketches. Why had Barton become so agitated when the boy
picked it up? What was there about the affair to excite the man so
Suddenly into the boy's mind there flashed a startling suspicion. But so
grave was the idea that he dismissed it, or rather tried to; but with
all his efforts the idea kept recurring like a dominant note in a piece
of music. Rob decided to be on the watch and try to verify or disprove
his suspicion, which was nothing more nor less than an idea that Barton
was a traitor to his employer, and was also in the service of some
powerful interests striving to get a grip on the secrets of the
"That man will bear watching," decided Rob.
Scarcely had he come to this conclusion when Mr. Barr shouted down from
the conning tower:
"I'm going to dive!"
The hearts of all the lads beat perceptibly quicker at the words.
They were about to descend into the unknown regions beneath the surface
of the ocean, down into the dark waters where men's souls are put to a
"Ready?" came the cry from the conning tower.
"All ready!" shouted back the lads assembled in the cabin, waiting for
they knew not what.
"Then hold tight, we're going down quick."
S-w-ish-ish-ish! The roar of the water, as the powerful pumps sucked it
into the submerging tanks, filled the interior of the Barr submarine.
Suddenly she gave a forward plunge, and the boys now learned for what
purpose several handholds were attached to the cabin walls!
"Say, this is a queer sensation, isn't it?" gasped Merritt, looking
rather alarmed as the downward rush could be distinctly felt. In the
engine room the electric motors had been connected, and in the conning
tower the hatch which gave entrance and egress when on the surface had
been clamped tightly down.
"S-s-pose we don't come up again?" exclaimed Donald.
"We haven't got an awful lot to eat on board," murmured Tubby anxiously.
"Gracious, how far down are we going?" spoke Merritt, as five minutes
passed and still the _Peacemaker_ continued her descent into the depths
of the sea.
All at once the tilting motion ceased, the _Peacemaker's_ stern tanks
were filled, and she floated on an even keel. Leaving the care of the
wheel to Ensign Hargreaves, who, as we know, was familiar with the usual
type of submarine, Mr. Barr came into the cabin.
"Well, boys, what do you think of it?" he asked with a smile.
"It's g-g-great," rejoined Tubby, with a notable lack of his usual
"And now I suppose you'd like to see what the bottom of the sea looks
like. We are down some two hundred fathoms and about fifty miles off the
coast. Should you care to see how things look down here?"
"How will that be possible?" asked Merritt.
By way of reply Mr. Barr went to the starboard wall of the cabin and
pulled a lever connecting with a worm gear. As he did so, a great
section of the _Peacemaker's_ steel side drew back and revealed a plate
glass window set between the inner and outer "skins" of the craft.
The boys crowded round the window and peered out eagerly. But to their
disappointment they could see no more of their surroundings than if they
had been looking out of a train window on a dark night. It was as black
as a wolfs mouth at those unknown depths.
"Why, we can't see anything," came a disgruntled chorus.
"Wait a minute," smiled the inventor.
[Illustration: THE BOYS CROWDED ROUND THE WINDOW AND PEERED OUT
Pressing a button, he extinguished the cabin lights. Then he opened a
sort of closet in the wall alongside the window and swung out a
powerful, though small, searchlight attached to an adaptable arm in the
same manner as a desk telephone.
There was a clicking sound, and a flood of white light pierced the
blackness outside. The boys broke into delighted exclamations as the
powerful rays revealed all sorts of fish, many of odd shapes and colors,
attracted by the light.
Suddenly a dark, shadowy form swung into view. Instantly the other fish
vanished, and the boys saw that the newcomer was a large shark swimming
No doubt he wondered who the strangers in his deep sea abode could be,
for he swam up close to the window, causing the boys to shrink back.
They quite forgot that between them and the tiger of the deep was a
solid plate of glass as strong almost as steel.
The shark gazed at the window for an instant and then vanished. With its
disappearance, the other fish reappeared and kept the submarine company,
for all the world like sea gulls circling round a ship entering port.
"I wonder if they are hungry and want us to throw some food out to
them," said Tubby stolidly, as he gazed at the finny tribes darting here
and there in the searchlight's rays.
"Gracious, do you think that the fish have the same appetite as you
have?" laughed Merritt.
"Just the same, some of those fellows would taste all right broiled,"
declared the stout youth, at which there was a general laugh.
After an hour spent in this manner the searchlight was switched off and
the panels slid back into place.
"I think we will rise now," said the inventor; "you boys had better hold
on, for we may go up pretty quick."
"I hope we _do_ go up," muttered Tubby, rather nervously. The stout
youth was not particularly in love with the dark depths in which they
were navigating. In fact, all the lads, though they did not admit it,
experienced a longing for daylight. It was an awe-inspiring feeling--too
awe-inspiring to be comfortable--to be in the depths of the ocean where
no keel had ever before plowed.
Mr. Barr remounted to the conning tower. A minute later a renewal of the
swishing sound told that the pumps were emptying the tanks at the rate
of a thousand gallons a minute. The submarine could be felt to leap
upward toward the surface. The boys held on for dear life, exchanging
rather alarmed glances.
All at once the pace slackened, and the swishing sound ceased. Mr. Barr
had decided that the pace was too swift and had cut off the pumps.
"Well, thank goodness that's over!" gasped Donald. "At the rate we were
going up we'd have bounced clean out of the sea."
"I guess we're all right now," remarked Merritt.
The words had hardly left his lips when there came a jar and a bump that
shook the submarine in her every frame and rivet.
The boys were thrown from their feet and hurled about the cabin. At the
same instant the engines stopped and the submarine began to back, but
slowly, like a stricken animal.
"We've rammed something!"
These and a hundred other exclamations came from the alarmed boys.
Mr. Barr poked his head down into the cabin.
"Are you all right below?" he asked.
"Yes; but what has happened?"
"Have we been badly damaged?"
"Are we sinking?"
The above questions were all shouted at once in the tense excitement.
Barton, his face white as ashes, came out of his engine room.
"What did we hit?" he demanded in a frightened voice.
"I don't know; but we struck something, possibly a sunken wreck, a hard
blow," was the inventor's reply. Although his face was deadly pale, his
voice was without a tremor as he spoke.
"We must make an examination at once," he went on. "Andrews, Higgins,
and Ross," addressing the three sailors who had appeared from forward,
"make an examination forward at once and see if any of the plates have
started. If you find a suspicion of a leak report to me at once."
The sailors, trained in naval discipline, saluted, and hastened off on
"If we are leaking, what are we to do?" demanded Rob.
"Meet death as bravely as we can," was the reply in steady tones;
"submarines carry no boats and we must go to the bottom unless we can
find some way to stop the leak."
Small wonder that the boys were stricken aghast. Barton, the machinist,
flung himself face downward on a couch and began whimpering.
The inventor looked at the man with contempt.
"Stand by your engines, Barton," he commanded sternly; "the first man to
shirk his duty in this emergency will have to settle with me."
Barton rose to his feet unsteadily. He was pasty yellow with terror. In
his eyes was a wild look. But under the inventor's stern gaze he
reentered the engine room, shaking like a leaf.
It was then that Rob noticed that a revolver was in the inventor's hand
as he stood at the top of the cabin ladder.
THE STRANGE FLAG.
After ten minutes of the most painful suspense that any of the boys had
ever known, the three sailors returned with the report that while one of
the forward plates was bent and was leaking slightly, there appeared to
be no danger.
Mr. Barr made no secret of his relief at receiving this bit of
information. The boys burst into a cheer, and Barton, crouching in
cowardly panic in the engine room, knew by this sound that all was well.
"Now we'll get to the surface quick and see what happened," declared the
The _Peacemaker_, which all this time had been slowly backing, was sent
upward once more. As soon as they reached the surface Mr. Barr opened
the conning tower hatch, and they all hastened out on deck. To their
amazement the water all about was dyed crimson, and the cause was almost
immediately apparent. Not far off lay the carcass of a whale, almost cut
in two. This was beyond question the obstacle that the submarine had
struck. Probably the dead cetacean could not get out of the way of the
steel diving craft in time, or else deemed it another whale, and so was
rammed by the sharp steel prow.
"Suppose that had been a solid object, like a rock, or a submerged
derelict?" asked Rob.
"We shouldn't be here now," rejoined Ensign Hargreaves calmly enough,
but in his voice there was palpable evidence of the relief he felt at
their narrow escape.
"I guess we'll stay on the surface for a while now," decided the
inventor. Accordingly, the craft was put about and headed for the island
at a good rate of speed. The return voyage was made without incident,
except that Tubby caused much amusement by inquiring if whale flesh was
edible, and if it was, he should enjoy a broiled whale steak for dinner.
When the shed was reached the bow of the submarine was elevated by means
of powerful geared tackle provided for this purpose, and the job of
substituting a new plate for the damaged one was begun. It was finished
That afternoon Rob and Merritt took the shotguns and started for the
other shore of the island to see if they could not bring down some shore
birds. They tramped along the beach and met with some success. Their
walk brought them to the opposite shore of the island, as has been said,
and they found themselves in a desolate stretch of country, nothing but
sand and brush and coarse shore grass.
They were discussing the odd nature of their mission on the island, when
Merritt suddenly grasped his companion's arm and pointed seaward,
toward another of the islands that have been mentioned as being
scattered pretty closely in the vicinity. Rob was just in time to catch
sight of a motor boat, seemingly a fast one, slipping behind the spot of
At the same instant a figure rose from the grass almost in front of
them. It was Barton the machinist. He had apparently been concealed in
the grass, and had not calculated on the boys discovering him.
"Well, what are you after now? Spying on me again, eh?" he snarled
"I don't know why you should say we were spying on you," rejoined Rob,
"unless you are up to something wrong."
"What do you mean?" asked Barton, stepping quickly toward him as if to
The man's hand was upraised, but the determined way in which Rob met his
angry glare caused him to drop it.
[Illustration: ROB WAS JUST IN TIME TO CATCH SIGHT OF A MOTOR BOAT,
SLIPPING BEHIND THE SPOT OF LAND.]
"I want you to quit followin' me around, that's all," he said.
"I guess this island's big enough to hold all of us," snapped Merritt,
"and as for following you around, we have other and better occupations
on our hands."
The machinist made an angry reply and set off across the island at a
rapid pace. As he did so an odd incident took place on the island behind
which the motor boat had vanished.
On a staff which the boys had not previously noticed a red flag began to
glide up and down. Sometimes it was hoisted quickly and then again
"What in the world are they doing over there?" wondered Merritt.
"I can't make out unless they are a party of crazy campers amusing
themselves," rejoined Rob; and then he suddenly burst out: "By Jove, I
have it; they are signalling."
"But signalling what or who?"
"I haven't decided yet; but I wonder if the same thought has occurred to
you as to me?"
"Why, that Barton was watching those signals."
"You mean that they were intended for him?"
"But what would they be signalling him for?"
"Only one thing that I can think of. You know what the ensign said about
spies; well, if that fellow Barton isn't up to some crooked work, why
should he sneak off like this and be so anxious to hide from us when we
happen along accidentally? Then, too, there's that paper covered with
drawings that I found in the engine room."
"By ginger, I see what you are driving at. You think that Barton is a
traitor, and is in league with those spies?"
"It's a grave accusation to make, but I can hit on no other explanation
of his actions. He is angry at us because he thinks we may see too
much. Look, they are still signalling."
"I wish we could read what they are saying."
"I think I can," rejoined Rob quietly.
"How are you going to do it?"
"By bringing my knowledge of Morse into play. I think that when the flag
is run up slowly it means a dash and a quick run is a dot. Let's try it
Luckily the spot where the two boys were was grown with high, coarse
grass, and the sand dunes rose high in places, affording protection for
As the flag rose and fell they spelled out a word according to the Morse
"That's 'Ready'," proclaimed Rob exultingly; "we have hit on their code,
"They're still at it," exclaimed Merritt, as the flag continued its
eccentric rises and falls; "what's next, I wonder?"
Dash--dash--dash--dash, spelled out the flag.
"That means 'to'," declared Rob.
"Yes, and there comes 'night'," exclaimed Merritt a moment later. "And
now they've stopped. Let's see what message we've caught."
"Short and sweet," laughed Rob. "I guess we came in at the tail end of
their confab. All we've got is 'Ready to-night'."
"Well, isn't that something?" demanded Merritt. "At all events it's a
complete sentence and tells us that somebody will be ready for something
"Right you are, and that 'somebody' is to be Barton, I'll bet a
"But ready for what?"
"That remains to be seen. I've always thought Barton would bear
watching. I'm certain of it now, and if the submarine isn't mixed up in
this tangle somewhere, call me a Chinaman."
"Are you going to tell the ensign about this?"
"Not till we have something more tangible to go upon. After all, we have
proved nothing, but to-night we'll keep a close watch on Barton and in
that way find out if our suspicions are correct or not."
And so it was arranged. The boys hunted a bit more, but somehow the
strange signals and the peculiar behavior of Barton had got on their
minds, and they gave up their sport earlier than they had expected and
trudged back to camp to complete their arrangements for the night's
SCOUTING FOR UNCLE SAM.
"Rob! Rob! Rob!"
Merritt nudged his dozing companion as they lay near to the submarine
shed, where they had taken up their position earlier in the night.
Immediately after supper the lads had, apparently, slipped off to their
tents; but as soon as they were sure that they were free from
observation they had, in pursuance of their plans, taken up a position
close to the sheltering place of the _Peacemaker_.
Rob had dozed off shortly before midnight, and the words at the
beginning of this chapter formed Merritt's notification to him that it
was time to bestir himself.
The boy, aroused at once from his nap, sat up at his comrade's summons.
"What is it?" he asked in a whisper.
"Look! Look yonder! Don't you see Barton sneaking toward the shed?"
There was no moon, but in the starlight Rob, thus admonished, could
distinctly discern a shadowy figure gliding across the sand dunes to the
"It _is_ Barton, sure enough!" he exclaimed in a low, tense voice. "I
guess we were right, Merritt, when we read that 'Ready to-night'
"We sure were," was the response; "the question now is, what is that
fellow up to?"
"Some sort of mischief, just as we surmised," was the reply. "Let's do
an Indian crawl toward the shed and see what we can find out."
The next instant both boys were noiselessly wriggling their way on their
stomachs toward the shed into the interior of which Barton had, by this
time, vanished. It was easy work to make a noiseless advance over the
soft sand, but so thoroughly had both the Boy Scouts practiced the
maneuver of silent advance that even had the ground been different, it
is likely that they could have approached unheard.
Right up to the very walls of the shed they wriggled their way and then,
placing their eyes to a crack in the timbers, they peered in. By the
yellow light of a lantern Barton had lighted they saw him dive down into
the interior of the submarine and emerge, ere long, with several rolled
sheets of paper.
The fellow did not appear to labor under anxiety that he was being
watched, for he went boldly about his business, taking no apparent pains
to screen the light or to move noiselessly. Having emerged from the
submarine and reached once more the door of the shed, he extinguished
the light and glided out into the night like a half-embodied form.
Merritt half leaped to his feet as he saw the fellow making off, but Rob
drew his companion down into their place of concealment with a
"Hold on. Don't spoil everything now by betraying our presence. Let him
get a little way and we'll follow him."
"But we may lose him in the darkness," objected Merritt.
"I scarcely think so," was the rejoinder; "in fact, I have a pretty good
idea where he is bound for."
"And where may that be?"
"The place in which he lay this afternoon to read those signals from the
distant island. Depend upon it, he is going to meet the men who
manipulated that flag!"
"By hooky! That's so, Rob. What a mind you have for figuring out things!
Of course, it's plain enough now that he is betraying Mr. Barr by giving
drawings and plans of the submarine to Mr. Barr's enemies, but I didn't
think he'd take so bold a method."
"There's nothing very bold about it," retorted Rob. "He is a trusted
man, and has been given every opportunity to be dishonest, if it so
"I guess that's right; but it's our duty to thwart him."
"You just bet it is, and we'll do it, too, if it's possible. See, there
he goes over the top of that sand dune. I could see his figure
silhouetted against the sky. I reckon it's safe now to take after him."
"All right, you say when."
"I'll give the word right here. Silently, now; remember he is on the
outlook for some interference with his plans, and a false move may spoil
"Don't worry about me. A first class Scout should be able to carry
through a simple little thing like this."
"Don't be too sure it's simple," admonished Rob, as they silently rose
from their crouching postures and took after the vague shadow; "this
thing may turn out to be bigger than we thought."
"Have you laid any plans as to what you will do if we do apprehend him
in the act of transferring the plans to Mr. Barr's enemies?"
"Not yet. There's no use crossing a bridge till you come to it."
Through the night the boys pursued their quarry as silently as two
snakes. At times they lost sight of him, but always his figure would
loom up against the star-sprinkled sky as he topped a sand dune. At
length they saw him pause and light the lantern, which he had used in
the shed, and which he still carried.
This done, he swung the light twice across his body, after the fashion
of a brakeman signalling a train to come ahead.
Instantly, out of the darkness, flashed an answering beacon--a red
light. The boys clasped each other's arms. That they were on the brink
of an exciting adventure they did not doubt. But in each lad's heart was
a firm resolve that, come what might, they would do their duty by Uncle
"Was that red light shown from the other island?" whispered Merritt.
"No, I am inclined to think it came from that launch we saw sneaking in
behind the island this afternoon just before the signalling commenced,"
was the response.
"In that case, she must be still far out?"
"Yes; but in any event they would have to send a boat ashore. That
launch is too large to land on the beach directly."
As if in answer to his opinion the watching boys presently saw a red
light creeping over the water toward the island. Undoubtedly it came
from a small boat, so low on the water was it.
Before long they could detect the splash of oars, although whoever was
rowing the boat was trying to make as little noise as possible.
As the light drew close in shore, Merritt seized Rob's arm.
"What's the next move?" he asked.
"It looks as if it were ours," was the quiet, but determined,
ROB'S BRAVE ACT.
While the boys had been watching, Barton had lain down, as though tired,
on the summit of a near-by dune. As the red light came close in shore,
however, he arose, and once more waved his lantern.
At the signal the course of the red light shifted and headed directly
toward him. The boys' hearts beat thickly; the time for action was at
hand. The bow of the boat they had seen approaching grated on the beach,
and two figures sprang out while Barton advanced to meet them.
"Get as close as you can," whispered Rob, as he wriggled forward; "we
want to get every word."
Merritt merely nodded; but his silent advance was as rapid as his
leader's. Owing to the nature of the ground, they were able to run
forward in an almost upright position when they reached the hollows of
the dunes, being compelled to cast themselves down only when they topped
a rise. Therefore, they were within ear shot when Barton greeted the two
men who had disembarked from the boat.
"Well," said one of the newcomers in a voice which plainly betrayed his
foreign origin; "well, did you do as you said you would?"
"Yes," responded Barton; "I've got the drawings here. They are not
complete, however, and you will have to give me more time."
"As you were told at Bridgeport, before you left for this island, you
can have all the time you want, only make the job complete."
"You can depend upon me to do that," was the response. "So long as I'm
well paid, I'll sell out all I know, and that's about everything about
the Barr submarine."
Here another voice, that of the second man who had left the boat, struck
"What about the models?"
"I've got them hidden up here in the sand," came Barton's voice in
reply. "I'd have had them ready but two blooming kids trailed me here."
"Trailed you? What do you mean?" demanded the voice of the man who had
first spoken and who, with the solitary exception noted, had carried on
most of the conversation.
"Why, this Ensign Hargreaves, this Navy dude, saw fit to bring a band of
Boy Scouts down here. They're the nosiest kids ever, and I half think
they suspect me of not being all I appear to be."
"That's a good guess," whispered Rob to Merritt.
Merritt could not refrain from a quiet chuckle.
"As a long distance and local guesser, Barton takes the palm," he
"Hush!" murmured Rob under his breath: "What are they up to now?"
"Going to dig up those models, I guess. Barton must have stolen them
from the workshop at odd moments."
Right then something happened that gave Merritt a shock. Rob rose to his
feet and started toward the beach. The men that the two Boy Scouts were
watching had headed inland, evidently to aid Barton in uncovering the
"Have you gone crazy, Rob? Lie down here," cautioned Merritt.
"Not much," was the response; "I'm going to do some reconnoitering while
I've got the chance."
"What do you mean?"
"That I'm going down to have a look at that boat, and if I can I'm going
to shove her off and thus leave those men prisoners on the island."
"By ginger, Rob, you are a great fellow for ideas. If only you can cast
the boat adrift, we'll have those chaps bottled up as securely as if
they were in a jail."
"Wait here till I come," responded the boy leader. "I won't be gone more
than ten minutes."
"I'd like to come with you, Rob."
"No; this is a job I can do best alone."
Rob noiselessly slipped away. The boat from which the mysterious men had
landed was plainly discernible as a black blot on the sandy beach. Rob
tried to make himself as inconspicuous as possible, but against the
white strip of sand he felt as noticeable as an elephant. However, he
gained the boat without interruption.
Its bow had been built up, apparently, to make it more seaworthy, and
the boy noticed that a small door had been cut leading into the space
beneath the raised bow. He had hardly discovered this when he was
startled to hear voices close at hand.
It was Barton and his crooked accomplices coming back. Fortunately for
Rob, they were behind a dune, so that it was impossible for them to
observe him. But in a moment, the boy realized with a thrill, they would
be upon him.
Quick as a flash, and hardly realizing what he was doing, Rob sought the
only place of concealment close at hand--the space under the raised bow
of the boat. He had hardly squeezed into his cramped quarters before the
trio of rascals topped the rise.
Rob, with a sinking of the heart, realized at that moment that it would
have been better for him to have taken his chances and run away from the
scene. But it was too late now. With something that was not exactly
fear, but very like it, Rob recognized the fact that he was a concealed
passenger, a stowaway, on board a boat on which his presence might cost
him his life.
As these reflections ran through his mind the men drew closer, talking
about the "clever" work they had done.
"I guess Barr and his _Peacemaker_ can say good-bye to Uncle Sam now,"
laughed one of them.
"Yes, and the best of it is that Barton will never be suspected,"
responded the other. "Our government will be manufacturing submarines of
the Barr type, while Barr and the United States Government are still in
blissful ignorance of the fact that all efforts are for nothing."
"You can bet I never put through a job unless I do it right," struck in
Barton with great self-complacency.
Rob, crouched in his cramped place of concealment, flushed with anger.
Right then and there he determined that, come what might, he would see
this strange adventure of his through to the bitter end. This resolve
was still in his mind when the two men shoved the boat off, bade
good-night to the rascally Barton, and, all unconscious of their
secreted passenger, got under way.
"If I get out of this alive, I'll be lucky," soliloquized Rob as he
heard the oars and felt the boat moving through the water. "I wonder if
I've done right? At any rate I'm in it now, and, as a Boy Scout, I'm
going to see it through."
THE ISLAND HUT.
Rob, in his place of concealment, could hear the two men talking as they
Their conversation related, in the main, to the affairs of the night.
Apparently, so far as Rob could gather, the stealing of the plans of the
submarine was not yet complete. It appeared that Barton was to remain on
the island in his capacity as trusted aide to Mr. Barr, and to gather up
all he could of the details of the new submarine, down to the smallest
Scarcely daring to breathe, Rob listened with all his might to the
conversation of the oarsmen.
At the same time the thought was running through his mind that he had
acted rashly in taking the step he had. But the boy pluckily made up
his mind to stick to his resolution of discovering just what was going
on inimical to the plans of the United States Government and Mr. Barr.
Before very long the prow of the boat grated on a sandy beach, and the
two men, gathering up some rolls of paper and several bulky-looking
objects, left the craft, first securing it by an anchor and line.
As their footsteps died away, Rob ventured to raise his head above the
gunwale of the boat and follow them with his eyes. He saw them ascend
the beach and enter the hut, apparently a structure once used by
fishermen or hunters.
After an interval a light shone from the solitary window of the hut, and
Rob came to a sudden resolve to find out just what was going forward.
With this object in view he clambered out of the boat, taking every
precaution against making unnecessary noise. On hands and knees he then
approached the lighted window.
The night was dark, and, standing at a fair distance from the casement,
he did not feel much fear of being seen from within. It is hard for
persons in a brightly lighted chamber to perceive what is going on
Seated around a rough table in the hut, which consisted of only one
room, Rob saw three men. Two of them, undoubtedly, were those who had
unconsciously rowed him to the island. The other he recognized with a
start as the possessor of the face which had peered through the transom
on the memorable night in Hampton, when plans for the experiments on the
island were in process of being formulated. In other words, the third
member of the party was none other than Nordstrom Berghoff, the spy.
Instantly many things that had been vague to Rob crystallized into a
clear understanding of the situation. The signals from the island, the
indignation of Barton over the presence of the Boy Scouts, and the
stealing of the plans and models, all stood out plainly now as being
part of an elaborate plot of which Berghoff was the mainspring.
A wave of indignation swept over the boy as he contemplated the rascals
within the hut gloating over the things they had obtained from the
"The scoundrels," he thought; "so they think they can rob Uncle Sam of
one of the greatest submarines ever invented, and do so with impunity! I
don't care what happens, I'll fool them if I can."
With this resolve firmly embedded in his mind, Rob crept closer to the
window. By skillful maneuvering he was at last almost under the
casement. In this position every word uttered within the hut was clear
He heard Berghoff chuckling gleefully over the manner in which the
night's work had been carried out.
"Undt not a vun of dose Boy Scouts knew anting aboudt idt," he
"No," rejoined one of his companions, a swarthy man with a pallid face
on which there stood out a bristly beard; "those kids were out of the
game so far as we were concerned. That Barton is a slick one, all
"Well, he's getting well paid for the job," struck in the third man, who
was short and stocky, with a crop of rough, reddish hair and a
protruding chin that gave him a "bull doggy" aspect.
"Of course, he gedts vell paid," rejoined Berghoff; "dis job is vorth de
naval supremacy of the worldt to der country vot I represent."
"As if we didn't know that as well as you," rejoined the red-haired man.
"It was lucky we worked in the same machine shop in Bridgeport with
Barton and knew he was a man who could be bought."
"Yes, there isn't much that he wouldn't do for money," chimed in the
"Vell, ledt us see if dese plans are all righdt, or if ve must get some
more of dem," remarked Berghoff.
From his manner of examining the intricate prints and plans, Rob knew
that the man, as were most probably his two companions, was an engineer
of no mean ability. With a small pocket scale he went over every scrap
of paper and then fell to examining the models. From his expression, Rob
judged that Barton had served the rascal well. Berghoff declared the
plans and the models all that would be required to produce a
_Peacemaker_ almost the exact duplicate of Mr. Barr's diving-boat.
"Well, when do we make our getaway?" queried the red-haired man when the
examination was concluded.
"To-morrow ve go," declared Berghoff. "In New York I catch der steamer
for Europe undt you two scatter verefer you like."
Rob felt his face flush with indignation, and at the same time he
experienced a sort of hopeless feeling of indecision. The plans and the
models lay there, almost within his reach, but so far as the possibility
of recovering them was concerned, they might as well have been in China.
"If only all the boys were here," he thought, "it would be possible to
'rush' those scoundrels and secure all their loot."
Finally Rob came to the decision to remain where he was for the present
and see if some opportunity would not present itself to recover the
articles of such vital importance to Uncle Sam's Government.
The men talked on, conversing in low tones, and presently the red-headed
man started to prepare some food on an oil stove, which must have been
brought from the motor boat earlier in the day. Till sundry appetizing
odors began to drift out to him from the plotter's cookery, Rob did not
realize that he was hungry. Before long, however, his desire for food
became almost overwhelming. It was tantalizing to lie out there in the
dark, tired and hungry, and hear within the hut the clatter of knives
and forks and inhale the odors of what was evidently a hearty meal.
At length the men stopped eating, and Rob heard them discussing whether
they should sleep in the hut or on board their motor boat. The boy
pricked up his ears as he listened. If only they decided to sleep on the
boat and leave the models and plans in the hut, he would have a chance
to recover the stolen property and make away with it in the beached
rowboat before dawn.
Rob could hardly restrain an exclamation of delight when the men came to
the decision to pass the night on their boat.
"What are you going to do with this stuff?" inquired the pallid-faced
man with the stubbly beard, indicating the mass of papers and models.
"Oh, we'll leave that here till morning," was Berghoff's response; "dere
is no use in taking idt by der boat now."
"Goodness," thought Rob, "I sure am in luck! It will be no trick at all
to get that stuff as soon as they have gone, and carry it back to the
island. I almost wish it was going to be a harder task. It's a bit too
much like burglary to suit me."
But Rob was not to have such an easy time of it as he anticipated.
A CHASE IN THE NIGHT.
The men left the hut, banging the door behind them. Rob waited till the
sound of their voices grew dim in the distance, and then raising himself
cautiously he crept around to the door of the hut.
The light had been extinguished, but as the boy had matches in his
waterproof case this fact did not worry him. Pushing the door open Rob
entered the place. Before striking a light he did all he could to assure
himself that he was not likely to be interrupted by the sudden return of
Having established to his satisfaction that he was safe, which was not
until he perceived a light on the motor boat, which lay not far from
the hut, he proceeded to light up the lantern the men had left behind.
Anxious not to lose any time on his risky task, he began stuffing papers
and plans into his pockets at once. The models, or most of them, he
decided he would have to convey to the boat in his arms.
He had hardly completed the task of stowing the papers in his pockets,
when he was startled at hearing footsteps coming toward the hut. Hastily
he extinguished the light, uttering an inward prayer that it had not
been seen. Luckily for himself he had taken the precaution of closing
the door as soon as he had the lantern lighted.
Just before extinguishing the lamp, he had gazed about the place for
some spot of concealment. But the hut, as has been said, was a crude
affair, and no closets or cupboards presented a chance of hiding. The
only thing that Rob could think of to do was to slip under the table
and trust to a miracle that he would not be discovered. Hardly had he
carried out his intention when the door opened and two men entered.
They were the red-headed man and the pallid-faced individual, who
appeared to act as assistants to Berghoff. At any rate, judging by their
accents, they were foreigners.
Rob had placed the lantern on the table in a position as much resembling
that in which the men had left it as he could. He heard a match
scratched and then the sputter of the flame.
"Don't see why Berghoff sent us back to get that stuff," grumbled one of
the men angrily; "it's as safe here as it would be anywhere."
"Well, as we're getting good pay fer this job, we might as well obey
orders," was the reply.
"Gee whillakers!" came a sudden exclamation from the man who had
attempted to light the lantern.
"What's up?" asked the other.
"Why, the plagued thing is red hot!"
"Red hot?" exclaimed his companion in tones of amazement. "How can that
be when it's a good half hour since we put it out?"
"Dunno, but it burned my fingers, all right."
"Say, Mike, do you think anyone has been here since we left?"
"Who could have been here? And yet, come to think of it, it's blamed
queer. Tell you what we'll do."
"Search this place. It won't take long."
"Good for you," rejoined the other, while Rob quaked in his place of
"There ain't many nooks or crannies, so the job won't take long."
"That's right. We'll begin by looking under the table----Jeehosophat!"
The sudden exclamation was caused by Rob's suddenly springing up,
upsetting the table and planting his fist full in the fellow's face.
The lantern was dropped in the excitement and the hut was plunged in
darkness. Rob had come to his sudden decision to act as he did as the
only way to escape the men.
For a time it looked as if he would be successful. Dashing past the man
who remained on his feet he made for the direction in which he knew the
door lay. In fact, as the men had not closed it, he had no difficulty in
locating it by the starlight outside.
"Hey! Stop! Stop!" roared the fellow behind him.
Rob sped on like the wind, using every ounce of running ability he
possessed. Straight for the beach he made, devoting all his energies to
a swiftly formed plan to get into the beached boat and row to safety. It
was a desperate plan, but he had no other resources.
He was within a few yards of the beach when a dark form loomed suddenly
before him. In the starlight Rob saw something glittering in the
newcomer's hand. This object was leveled at him, and a stern voice
commanded him to stop or be shot.
Rob, with a throbbing heart, pulled up. He recognized the voice as that
of Berghoff and knew that if he did not obey the order the desperate
ruffian would have no hesitation in sending a bullet into him.
Berghoff, who had been aroused by the cries of his aides when Rob
escaped from the hut, came up to the lad, keeping him covered with his
"Who are you? What you doing here?" he demanded sternly.
The next moment, and before Rob could reply, the fellow noted the Boy
"Oh, ho!" he exclaimed in a malignant tone. "So you are one of dose Boy
Scouts, eh? You think you pretty smart, eh? You vait. I may make you pay
for your fun."
There was a cold sort of malice in the man's way of speaking that
actually sent a chill down Rob's spine.
But he plucked up courage to make a bold reply.
"I know the sort of illegal trafficking you are engaged in, Berghoff,"
he said boldly, "and I tell you, you had better leave me alone."
"Is dot so?" sneered the fellow. "You haven't seen the last of me for a
long time yet."
"My friends will punish you for this," exclaimed Rob, in as confident a
tone as he could assume.
"It vill be a long time alretty before you see your friendts again,"
jeered the other. "Ah, here comes Mike and Gyp, now. Now ve findt out
what you vos doing up by der hut."
As the spy had said, the two men who had been in the hut came up at the
Berghoff instantly demanded to know what had occurred in the hut.
"By gosh, cap," said the red-headed man who, it seemed, was "Mike," "it
happened so sudden I can hardly tell you. We goes up there to get them
papers as you told us, and the first thing you know out jumps this young
catamount and hits me a swat on the jaw that 'most put me out fer the
"That's right," corroborated his companion; "that's just what he done,
"How did he get here?" demanded Berghoff angrily.
"Dunno, unless he flew," rejoined Mike helplessly. "Hadn't we better
search the young varmint and see what he's got in his pockets?"
"Yes, you had better search him at once."
"My last chance has gone," thought Rob as the two fellows seized him
roughly and began rummaging his pockets.
It would have been worse than useless to resist, so Rob submitted to the
search, while Berghoff stood looking grimly on as the papers were
extracted from his pockets by the two ruffians.
"If only I'd hurried a little more," thought Rob to himself bitterly.
"If only I'd hurried, I'd not have been in this predicament now."
"So you almost got avay mit vot you came after," exclaimed Berghoff as
the last of the papers was removed from Rob's pockets and handed over to
the spy; "it voss an inspiration dot made me send my men back by der
"What will we do with the kid?" asked the man known as Mike.
"I don't know yet," was the rejoinder in a harsh voice. "Ve ought to
throw him in der sea. He knows too much aboudt us."
"That's right, cap," came from Gyp, the pallid-faced man, "it's just as
Barton told us, these blamed Boy Scouts are on to us."
"Vell, it don't be goodt to get ridt of him righdt now. Better bring him
aboard the boat."
"All right, cap. Come on, you young sneak!" said the man known as Mike.
He gave Rob's arm a vicious twist, and with one of the men on either
side of him, and Berghoff walking close behind with the revolver, there
was no recourse for Rob but to accept the situation as it came. But in
mind he was casting about desperately for a means of escape. None had
occurred to him by the time they reached the motor boat, which was
moored at a tumble-down wharf, or jetty.
The motor boat proved to be a sixty-foot affair, with a cabin amidships.
Into this Rob was gruffly ordered.
"Get aboard now, and look slippy about it," was Mike's way of urging the
Boy Scout on board the craft.
Rob obeyed the order with a sinking heart Things looked about as black
as they could be, so even his optimistic nature was compelled to admit.
ON BOARD A STRANGE CRAFT.
Once inside the main cabin Rob was thrust into a small stateroom opening
off the larger apartment. He heard the lock click as the door was
slammed to, and knew that he was a prisoner.
It was dark inside the cabin, but by feeling about he discovered a bunk
on one side of the place. Critical as his situation was, the boy was so
tired that he flung himself down on this, and, before long, while still
pondering his quandary, he sank into a deep slumber.
When he awakened it was broad daylight. By the motion of the craft Rob
knew that she was at sea. Getting up from the bunk he peered out of the
small porthole of the stateroom. Outside nothing but the ocean was to be
seen. Of course the boy had not the slightest idea where they were, or
how long the boat had been running.
All he did know was that he was a prisoner, ravenously hungry, achingly
thirsty and almost fagged out. His slumbers had been uneasy and had not
Outside he could hear voices in the larger cabin. Crawling to the
keyhole he listened intently. Berghoff was talking. Rob heard enough to
convince him that the plans of the band had been changed.
"There vill be a big hue undt cry ven dey findt oudt der boy is gone,"
declared Berghoff. "We must findt some place where we can stop till der
excitement dies out."
"That's right, cap," agreed one of his companions, "but where can we
"There are plenty of small islands further down the coast. One of those
would suit our purpose," struck in another voice, which Rob recognized
as that of the pallid-faced Gyp.
"Dot's a good idea," agreed Berghoff; "gedt out der chart and look one
The voice sank into inaudibility and Rob threw himself back on the bunk.
At least he knew now what to expect, isolation and captivity with three
desperate men. It would be wrong to say the lad was frightened. Possibly
the very nature of his predicament had dulled his brain, as is sometimes
"I wonder if they are looking for me now?" he mused, and with the
thought came a glad realization that Merritt knew of the signals from
the island and would inform the ensign of them.
"If they only follow me up quickly, maybe they can overtake this craft,"
he said to himself, "although she's a fast one."
At this juncture of Rob's cogitations the door was thrust open and Gyp
entered with some food and water.
He placed them on the floor and started to leave the room in sullen
silence, when Rob stopped him.
"What are you going to do with me?" he demanded.
"Don't ask no questions and you'll get told no lies," growled the man,
slamming the door and relocking it on the outside.
"Well," thought Rob, "it's plain that I'm to be kept in the dark as to
my fate. Well, it's no use worrying. I'll tackle this food and take a
good long drink of water and then see if I can come to any conclusion."
The meal brightened Rob up wonderfully. After eating it he sat on the
edge of the bunk casting about for something to keep his mind off his
troubles, when he suddenly recollected the mysterious cipher found on
the _Good Hope_.
Reaching into his pocket he pulled it out and began figuring with the
stump of a pencil on the back of an old envelope. But ingenious as he
was, he found it hard to decipher. He tried half a dozen well-known
systems on it and was about to give up in despair when he recalled the
"Letter" method of reading cryptic numeral ciphers.
This system requires the operator to figure out the recurrence of
different numerals and the order in which they appear. Rob noticed that
the number 5 occurred most frequently. Now E is the most used letter in
any bit of English writing, so the lad set down 5 as answering for E.
After this he figured industriously till he had managed to make
something like sense out of the first paragraph of the old writing.
It would be wearisome to take the matter step by step in all its
details. Suffice it to say, therefore, that Rob found that he had hit on
a correct system and at the end of two hours had the following message
"It is buried twenty-four paces from dead cypress and to the west. The
island lies in long. 80 degrees 50 minutes and lat. 33 degrees 24
minutes. To whoever finds this and reads it, I will the ivory. Death is
close to me now. Good bye to all."
When his task had been completed, Rob sat gazing at the paper before
him. Unquestionably it gave the location of the dead whaler's cache. For
an instant the boy thought, with a thrill, that he was within reach of a
fortune. But the next moment he recalled where he was, which, in the
interest of his task, he had forgotten. Then, too, he remembered that
the dead man's two companions who marooned him on his own ship had
probably carried out their intention of returning and carrying off the
"So that's all of that," mused the boy, "but just the same, if I ever
get out of this scrape, I mean to hunt up that island and see if I can
locate the fate of those mammoth tusks."
All day the boat moved swiftly along, and it was not till the following
morning that anchor was dropped, as Rob knew by feeling the motion of
the craft stopped, and by hearing the rattle of the anchor chain.
"I wonder what is going to happen to me now?" he mused.
He had not long to wait.
"Come out on deck and help us row the dinghy ashore," Gyp muttered as he
unlocked the door.
Heartily glad to get out of his cramped quarters, Rob obeyed.
Coming on deck he found Berghoff and Mike already there. The former had
a formidable-looking revolver strapped on him. The boat was lying off a
small, sandy island, isolated from the others, in one of the groups that
are common on that part of the coast.
It was wooded and appeared to be a fine spot for Berghoff's purpose of
remaining in seclusion till Rob's friends gave him up for lost, and the
mystery of his capture blew over.
The dinghy, which hung on the davits astern, was lowered, and Rob
roughly told to "pile in and row us ashore." He obeyed the order,
noticing that in the boat were tent and camping supplies. Evidently
these had been placed in it before he was called on deck.
His heart sank as he observed these preparations for an extended stay on
the lonely island. Once ashore, he was forced to help in putting up the
tent, building a fire and doing other jobs to make the camp habitable.
Then, without food, he was set to chopping wood. After a hasty meal,
Berghoff disappeared, leaving Rob guarded by Gyp and Mike, who lay at
full length smoking lazily while he worked.
When Berghoff returned he announced that there was no trace of humanity
on the island. With this statement vanished Rob's last hope of help. He
had nourished a secret aspiration that there might be some campers or
fishermen living on the place.
When the sun set that night Rob's feelings were down to zero. The very
fact that he was not closely watched seemed to prove to him the utter
impossibility of his escaping. True, there was the boat, but that had
been drawn up on the beach by his wily captors so that it would be
impossible for him to move it without attracting their attention.
OFF ON A SEA TRAIL.
As minutes and then hours elapsed and Rob did not return, Merritt became
first anxious, and then seriously alarmed. He knew Rob's daring nature,
and had a keen fear that it might have led him into doing something
It was almost dawn when he at length determined to return to the
encampment and seek out Ensign Hargreaves. By the time he had tramped
back over the sandy dunes day was breaking, and in the camp of the Boy
Scouts the notes of the morning bugle were ringing out cheerily. The
first of the Scouts to note Merritt's return was Donald Grant.
He came running toward him, and then stopped short as he noted the
other's drawn, tired face.
"Why, what in the world's the matter with you, Merry?" he gasped out.
"You look as if you'd been drawn through a knothole. Where's Rob? Where
have you been all night?"
"I'll explain that later," said Merritt wearily; "just now I've got to
find Ensign Hargreaves. Rob's either been kidnapped or lost."
He hastened on, leaving the other lad rooted to the spot with amazement
and alarm. He knew Merritt well enough already to realize that the other
was not the sort of lad to overrate a situation. If Merritt was as
scared and weary as he looked, something serious indeed must have taken
In the meantime Merritt hastened to Ensign Hargreaves' tent. Hastily
arousing him, he hurriedly explained the whole matter. The officer was
out of his cot in an instant.
"You had no business to go off alone like that without notifying me,"
he exclaimed rather sharply. "Don't you know that the first duty of a
soldier, a sailor or a scout is to obey orders?"
Merritt crimsoned and hung his head. He knew that the officer was right.
"We thought we were doing a good thing," he said, "but I know now that
we did wrong in not notifying you."
The ensign's hand fell on the lad's shoulder. Then kindly enough he
"Well, acknowledging that you did wrong is a manly thing, my boy, and
we'll say no more about the matter. But about Rob, something must be
done right away. Arouse Mr. Barr while I am dressing and we'll set about
searching for him at once. There's little doubt in my mind but that he
is on that island where you saw the signals flying."
"But how could he get there unless he had an airship?" inquired Merritt.
"Hasn't it occurred to you that he might have hidden in the boat while
the men were out of it?"
"Gracious! In that case he may be their prisoner by this time!"
"I am afraid that there is little doubt of that. We must get after the
rascals at once."
By the time the ensign was dressed, Mr. Barr was also attired, and the
two immediately began a discussion of plans for the rescue of Rob. But
first the ensign wanted to know about Barton.
It was hard for Mr. Barr to believe that the man whom he trusted
implicitly could have proved traitor to him.
"The best way to find that out is to look at your papers and models and
see if anything is missing," was the response.
"I'll do so; but I'm sure the boys must be mistaken in Barton. He has
worked for me for many years."
"Possibly the large price he was offered to turn over the plans of the
_Peacemaker_ had something to do with it," suggested Merritt.
"Perhaps; but I'll not say anything till I find out definitely that
something is missing."
Mr. Barr hastened off toward the shed, but returned before long with a
countenance filled with apprehension.
"My most important blue prints and models are missing!" he exclaimed.
The ensign made a dry grimace.
"Our young friends were right," he said. "In detecting the rascal they
have done an excellent piece of scouting work. But now let us hurry off
in search of Rob at once."
"How will you reach that other island?" asked Merritt.
"We will go in the motor boat. She is fast and does not draw much
"Can we all go along?"
"No, we'll take one of my sailors, your chum Donald, Tubby Hopkins, you
and myself. We haven't settled accounts with Barton yet, and I don't
want him left practically alone on the island."
"Do you think he would try to harm the submarine?"
"I think it likely. He has probably been paid to injure it so that the
rival power that is working against us can construct its submarines
"But you are going to make him confess?"
"If he will, yes. If not, he faces a long prison term, although it will
be hard to prove that he actually stole the papers and models."
"But we saw him answering those signals, and then again, last night we
saw him meet the men."
"I'm afraid that wouldn't make very good evidence in a court of law,"
was the rejoinder. "But enough of this now. Tell Hawkins (one of the
sailors) to get the boat ready, and hurry through your breakfast We'll
start right afterward."
"We can't start too quick for me," was the brisk reply. "Poor old Rob, I
wonder what has happened to him."
While he ate a hasty meal Merritt outlined to the other Scouts what had
happened. Following this, Ensign Hargreaves announced a change of his
plans. He had decided, he said, to take Barton along, not caring to
leave the man on the island.
"He is clever and dangerous," he said, "and I want him under my eye till
I have decided how to dispose of his case."
"You are not going to let him know you suspect him?" asked Merritt.
"For the present, no. As to what I shall do in the future, I have not
yet made up my mind."
Ten minutes later a black motor boat shot out of the little inlet in
which she had been moored. As she sped seaward, making for the other
island, those left behind set up the cry of the Eagle and Wolf patrols.
Barton, looking sullen and suspicious, was at the engines. He knew the
object of the trip, but, of course, had no knowledge that his part in
it was suspected. Nor did any of the party show him by looks or words
that so much as a breath of suspicion attached to him. This was by the
orders of Ensign Hargreaves, who had determined to give the fellow
plenty of rope.
As the _Viper_, as the black motor boat was called, raced over the
water, Merritt found himself gloomily contemplating the future. If
anything serious had happened to Rob, he felt that he would be in a
measure responsible for allowing the young leader of the Eagles to go
A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE.
Half an hour after her start, the _Viper_ glided alongside the island
from which Merritt had seen the signals go up the afternoon before. He
could not forbear to take a glance at Barton as the ensign ordered the
The machinist was stooping over the motor to hide his agitation; but by
the trembling of his hands Merritt could tell that the fellow was
apprehensive of something that might involve himself. As soon as the
anchor dropped, the motor boat's dinghy was drawn up alongside and the
ensign and Merritt boarded it. The others were left on board the _Viper_
with whispered orders from the officer to watch Barton's every move.
The island was a small one, and from its highest point it was possible
to see all around it. To Merritt's bitter disappointment, however, no
sign of another motor boat was in sight. Their quarry had flown.
"There's but one thing to do," declared the ensign; "we must make for
that small hut over yonder and search it thoroughly. It may yield a clue
of some kind."
A short walk brought them to the hut which had been the scene of the
stirring events of the preceding night. Hardly had they entered the door
before Merritt gave a start of surprise and a swift exclamation.
"Look! Look there!" he cried. "There's Rob's hat!"
Sure enough, lying in a corner was the boy leader's campaign hat, which
he had lost in the scuffle with Mike and Gyp.
"Well, that shows conclusively enough that he was here last night, and
from that upset table and the general look of things, I should imagine
there had been a pretty lively scrap here," commented the ensign.
"But where can Rob be now?"
"Probably fearing discovery if they remained here, the men who have
taken the plans and the models carried him off, too."
"How will it ever be possible to obtain a clew as to where they have
The ensign's answer appeared enigmatical.
"Could you describe the motor boat you saw off here yesterday?"
"Well, she was of a very remarkable color--a light green, with a signal
mast sticking up amidships. Then, too, her cabin was unusually high."
"Good. Such a boat as that ought not to be very hard to locate."
"I don't quite understand."
"Well, then I'll explain. These waters are fairly well traveled, and by
working our wireless we may be able to get into communication with some
boat similarly equipped, which may have seen that green motor boat."
"Cracky, that's a good idea," cried the admiring boy; "let's go back and
try it at once."
"Yes, it's small use our waiting about here. The rascals overreached us
by getting away as quick as possible. I suppose they didn't want to run
any chances of discovery."
The return to the _Viper_ was quickly made, and the motor boat was
driven back to the Submarine Island at top speed. Barton tried with all
his might to overhear what was said in the bow of the boat where the Boy
Scouts had gathered; but the ensign was careful to keep his voice low,
and then, too, the noise of the engines precluded the machinist from
catching a word, hard as he strained his ears.
Under the tutoring of Hiram Nelson, the wireless scout, the others had
all become fair operators. It was agreed that day and night one of them
should be at the apparatus, seeking for news of the green motor boat.
It was the ensign's opinion that the craft would not put into a port
immediately, fearing a hue and cry, but would cruise about or hide in
some little frequented part of the coast. But he hoped that if the
wireless "caught" some vessel that had spoken to her, he could at least
obtain a line on which direction she had taken.
The first "session" at the wireless was taken by Hiram, then came the
others in rotation; but when at ten o'clock that night Donald, who had
learned wireless on his father's yacht, came on duty, there had come no
word from the air of a green motor boat. Several ships had been spoken
to, but not one reported anything to give the boys hope.
"Well, good-night, old man," said Merritt, as Donald, who relieved him,
came on duty, "and good luck."
"I'll keep a good watch out, all right," was the earnest response.
"It's our only way to get poor old Rob back."
"I'm afraid so," sighed Merritt, leaving the place with a despondent
air. As Donald had said, it was a chance--but what a long, seemingly
Donald, left alone, began sending out calls, and every little while he
paused for an answer out of space to his appeals. As he pressed the
sending key the blue, lithe spark leaped and crackled between its points
like a fiery snake. Then all would become silent again as he listened
for an answer to his call.
Once he caught a steamer bound north and carried on quite a conversation
with its operator. He felt quite lonesome when he closed down his
sending apparatus with a parting "good-bye."
It was very still about the encampment. So still, in fact, that the boy
began to feel more and more lonesome. He longed for someone to talk to;
but he knew that chance would not come till Tubby, his relief,
The stout youth was almost due when Donald suddenly got into
communication with a steamer called the _Cambria_, bound north from New
Orleans to New York. He put his customary query about the green motor
"A green motor boat?" came back the reply.
"Yes," flashed Donald.
"With one signal mast and a high cabin?"
"Yes! yes," shot out Donald, pounding the key excitedly. "Have you seen
such a craft?"
"We sighted her this evening."
The boy's fingers shook as he wrote down the reply with flying pencil on
the scratch pad at his elbow.
"Down off some islands about Lat. 80 deg., Long. 33 deg.," came the
answer. "She was coming straight toward us and then all of a sudden she
headed away. Seemed like she didn't want to get near us. Is that all?"
"Yes; good-bye, and thank you," flashed back Donald exultantly.
His fingers had hardly left the key before he was startled by a soft
footfall behind him.
The boy wheeled like a flash and then almost fell off his chair. Facing
him, with an ugly-looking revolver in his hand, was Barton, the
There was a mean sneer on his sinister face as he snarled out:
"Let me see that message and let me see it quick."
"I've got no message for you," responded Donald, determined not to let
the man know that he had information of the green motor boat's
"That's a lie," snarled Barton; "don't monkey with me. I've got this gun
and, jingo, I know how to use it, too."
THE DEPTHS OF OLD OCEAN.
Just as Donald, who was no match physically for the burly machinist, was
pondering what to do, the door which was open became filled by a rotund
It was Tubby.
In a jiffy he took in the scene, the threatening attitude of Barton, the
alarmed look of Donald, who stood staring at the revolver like a bird
fascinated by a snake. Tubby realized that it was no time for thinking
the situation over. Instead, he crouched low, and then, darting forward
with surprising agility, he seized the machinist around the legs before
the fellow knew what was happening.
Taken utterly by surprise, and borne off his feet by Tubby's rush,
Barton came crashing to the floor in a heap. As he fell the revolver
exploded, the bullet passing by Donald's head.
Barton struggled desperately with Tubby, but the stout youth held on to
him like a leech, at the same time yelling for help. In a few seconds
the ensign and Mr. Barr came rushing in, followed by the Boy Scouts and
the sailors. There was an end to the battle then and there. After a
brief resistance Barton, snarling and cursing, was tied hand and foot,
and the ensign ordered him locked up in the dining room shed for the
Donald soon told his story and proudly exhibited the message from the
air which told of sighting the green motor boat. All agreed that it was
a cheering bit of news.
"If they were near a lot of islands when sighted, it is most probable
that they are hiding on one of the group. At all events, having the
latitude and longitude, it will be easy to go down there and see."
"What are you going to do about Barton? We have full proof of his
villainy now," struck in Merritt.
"I suppose we shall have to take him along with us. We can't waste time
going ashore now and risking the law's delays. We will go down the coast
in the submarine with the _Viper_ acting as escort, and Barton a
prisoner on the _Peacemaker_," decided the ensign.
"I wonder why he was so anxious to see that message?" spoke Tubby.
"I guess he knew we were trying to trace the green motor boat, and was
watching the wireless through that window. When he saw Donald busy
taking a message, he guessed what it was, and decided that it was
necessary for him to see it," hazarded Mr. Barr. "How I have been
deceived in the rascal!"
"You certainly have. His actions show him to be a scoundrel of the
worst type," agreed the ensign.
There was not much more sleep for anybody that night. Excitement ran far
too high for that. An attempt was made to force Barton to confess his
part in the conspiracy, but he sullenly refused to talk.
"You've got nothing on me," was all he would vouchsafe. "Anything those
tin soldier kids tell you is patched up out of whole cloth."
Slumber being out of the question, the rest of the night was devoted to
stocking both craft with food and water in good quantities. In this work
the Scouts helped with a will. They were aided by the three sailors, who
were to be left behind to guard the island, and therefore did not work
any too hard.
Dawn found all in readiness, and at the summons of the bugle all lined
up before Ensign Hargreaves to receive their orders. To the submarine
were assigned Merritt and Donald, besides Mr. Barr, Ensign Hargreaves,
and the prisoner Barton. The _Viper's_ crew was captained by Tubby, a
capable motor boat engineer, and Hiram and the others. When this had
been done, Barton was led before Ensign Hargreaves.
"Barton," said he sternly, "you have acted the part of a scoundrel and
should be behind the bars now. But I need you for work, and upon the
manner in which you perform it, will depend just how severe your
punishment will be. Cast him loose, men, and take him into the engine
room of the submarine. You are to stand by for orders."
"I'll try to do my best, sir," rejoined Barton in a soft tone of voice,
very unusual for him. "I'm sorry, sir, for what I did, but I was led
astray by promises of money."
This change in the man was almost startling. From a sullen, morose
fellow he had suddenly, or so it seemed, become a dutiful, attentive
man, willing to obey orders and do his best. Was all this genuine? We
shall have to go further to see.
There being no excuse for delay, and as all were anxious to get off as
quickly as possible, the two craft were boarded. The hatch of the
submarine was left open for the present, for it was the intention of the
ensign to run "awash," as it is called.
The motor boat running very nearly as fast as the submarine, they kept
each other company down the coast with little difficulty. It was fine,
exciting sport in the motor boat as it cut its way over the swells,
hurling spray and water out to either side of its sharp bow. If only the
boys had had Rob with them, they would have enjoyed it much more,
All that was visible of the submarine was the top of her conning tower,
and the slender, needle-like "eye" of the periscope. The water surged
round her conning tower as she rushed along, for all the world like
some sea monster speeding on an errand of destruction. She was not going
full speed, for the ensign wished to keep company with the motor boat.
At noon, just as the lads on the motor boat were settling down to lunch
cooked on a blue-flame stove, a head was thrust out of the conning
tower. It was that of Mr. Barr.
"We are going to run under the surface in a short time," he said; "just
follow your same course, and you'll pick us up when we rise again."
"All right," shouted Tubby, his mouth full of ham sandwich, which he
held in one hand, while with the other he clasped a big wedge of pie.
The hatch on top of the conning tower closed shortly after with a
metallic "clang." The next instant the craft vanished from view in a
swirl of water. For a time the tip of the periscope tube, which was
twenty-five feet long, projected above the surface; then that, too,
vanished, and the motor boat was alone on the ocean.
On board the submarine the lads were enjoying themselves as much as
their fellow Scouts on the motor boat. This second experience was even
more novel and enjoyable than their first dive. Mr. Barr sat in the
cabin reading some scientific works. Barton, seemingly a changed
character, was at work in the engine room. The negro cook was in the
galley, while in the conning tower the ensign was giving Donald and
Merritt a lesson in handling a diving craft.
In fact, it was Merritt who was at the deflecting apparatus when the
occupants of Tubby's boat saw the submarine sink.
"That is the descending lever and this the ascending one," explained the
officer before Merritt sent the boat under the surface.
The levers were small affairs and looked fragile for the work they did
of starting up the mighty pumps that caused the boat to rise or sink at
"What if one of them should break or be lost?" asked Donald.
"Well, if we were under water and the ascending lever happened to be
missing, we should be in an awkward position, and I don't believe that
Mr. Barr carries an extra one."
"Gracious! Then if the lever was lost we should have to stay at the
bottom of the sea?"
"That's about the size of it," was the reply.
Mr. Barr, coming into the conning tower just then, confirmed the
officer's suspicion that no extra lever was carried.
"I admit there ought to be one as a matter of precaution," he said, "but
we were in such a hurry to give the boat her tests that we forgot about
All the afternoon the submarine ran under the water, rising about sunset
to the surface. In the distance was the motor boat, but far in the rear.
The _Peacemaker_ was sent around in circle and soon came alongside her
Then the hatchway was opened and the ensign shouted some orders to
Tubby. The submarine was going to dive once more, but would come up
before dark. When night fell a red light would be carried astern which
the motor craft was to follow throughout the night. When this had been
made clear, the _Peacemaker_ dived once more, but this time it had been
decided to send her down to a good depth.
"We will eat an early supper under water just for the novelty of it,"
declared Mr. Barr.
While the meal was going forward Barton was sent into the conning tower
to navigate the craft. He obeyed with the same smooth complacence with
which he had received every order since his attack on Donald. Evidently
the man was hoping, by good behavior, to save himself from a long jail
After supper Barton was relieved, and Merritt sent to the wheel in his
place. He had been in the conning tower but a short time when he was
joined by Ensign Hargreaves and Mr. Barr.
"I guess we'll go to the surface now," said the inventor; "it must be
almost dark up above."
Merritt reached for the lever that operated the ascending pumps. Right
then he received the most acute and alarming shock of his life.
There was no lever there!
"It's gone!" he shouted.
"What? What's gone?" repeated the inventor in a puzzled tone.
"The lever! The ascending lever! We can't rise to the surface without
The inventor turned pale. Drops of sweat stood out on his forehead. Even
the ensign turned a shade whiter than usual.
If the lever could not be discovered, they were doomed to an awful death
in the depths of the sea!
ROB MAKES A DISCOVERY.
Rob, disconsolate and miserable, passed a bad night, and rose early. As
his captors were still asleep and had, apparently, made no effort to
guard him, he decided to make a tour of the island himself. For one
thing, he was by no means sure that Berghoff had been speaking the truth
when he said that the place was uninhabited; and again he thought that
some form of escape might present itself if only he investigated the
So the lad tiptoed out of the camp, first taking the precaution to fill
his pockets with food. He headed straight into the woods, planning to
come out again when he had traveled a safe distance from the camp. He
followed out this idea, pushing his way through the brush for a time,
and then emerging on a strip of white beach that seemed to extend around
He trudged along, keeping a bright lookout, but saw nothing that would
further his prospects of getting away. All at once, though, as he came
around the other side of the little spot of land, he saw another island
lying at no great distance off. And on the beach of this island was a
A more welcome sight could not have presented itself to the boy's eyes
just then. It meant that there was somebody on the island,--somebody who
would surely be glad to help out a lad in his predicament.
"But how on earth am I to get over there?" mused the lad. "The tide is
running like a mill race, and I don't know whether I'm a strong enough
swimmer to buck it."
Then another idea occurred to him. Just above him was a small point of
land. By going into the water from the end of this, he would be some
distance above the island he wished to gain, and the current, would,
therefore, carry him down.
"If I only could get a log or something," thought the boy; "it wouldn't
take me long to get over there."
He started to hunt for a log that would suit his requirements; but logs
didn't seem very plentiful in that vicinity. In his search, he reentered
the woods, and after looking about a bit succeeded in finding one that
would just suit his purpose.
Stooping down, he lifted it, and then jumped back with a startled
exclamation. A huge black snake had been coiled under the log, and now
it struck at him, hissing and darting its red tongue in and out, and
showing its vicious fangs!
Before Rob could avoid the creature's attack, it had wrapped itself
around his arm, fastening its fangs into his sleeve.
[Illustration: HE TOPPLED BACKWARD OVER THE BRINK AND PLUNGED DOWN INTO
THE SWIFTLY FLOWING CURRENT BENEATH.]
Rob battled desperately with the reptile, which lashed its tail and
hissed with vicious intonations. The feel of the creature's grip was
loathsome to the boy, and although its fangs had not penetrated his
tough khaki coat, they might do so at any moment.
In the battle Rob backed out of the woods, striving all the time to free
himself, and unconsciously stepped nearer and nearer to the water's
edge. Before he realized his position he toppled backward over the brink
and plunged down into the swiftly flowing current beneath.
Down he went until it seemed he must strike the bottom! But his fall
into the channel had had one good effect. The snake was not gripping his
arm any more. When he shot to the surface he saw it swimming for its
life, but being carried away from the shore.
In fact, the same thing was the case with Rob. The grip of the water
drew him far from the island he had just vacated in such an
unceremonious manner, and hurried him toward the spot of land where
he had seen the boat. Striking out with all his might, the lad fought
the current so as to reach the other island before the water hurried him
past it. It was a hard fight even for a powerful swimmer like Rob. His
clothes encumbered him cruelly, too; but at last, almost exhausted, he
touched bottom and reeled ashore.
For a time he could do nothing but lie there gasping. Had his life
depended on it, he could not have moved hand or foot. But at length his
youthful vitality came to his aid and he rose to his feet to look about
The current had landed him on a part of the beach from which the boat he
had spied was not visible. But he knew in which direction it lay, and
started out for it. As he rounded a small promontory he came upon it, a
heavily-built, rickety-looking old thing, but still a boat.
Rob in his present situation would have taken anything that would
"I'll examine it first and then go hunt up the owner and make a bargain
with him for it," he thought.
With this intention he approached the craft, and the next instant
received one of the cruellest shocks of his life.
The boat was a mere shell, falling to pieces from age and exposure to
the hot sun. It must have been years since she had been used, and Rob's
experienced eye saw that she would have sunk like a stone the instant
she was put in the water. It was a bitter blow to the lad, and for a
time he sank down on the sand, completely knocked out.
But after a time he rallied his spirits.
"After all," he mused, "there may be somebody living on the island and
that boat may be just an old one they have discarded. I'll dry my
clothes and then start out to investigate."
With the drying of his clothes, Rob made an alarming discovery. The food
he had taken was most of it reduced to pulp by its immersion, some
canned goods alone remaining edible.
"That makes it all the more urgent for me to find some aid," he said to
himself; "I don't think that bunch on the motor boat will trouble to
look for me. I guess they'd be glad to leave me here if this is a
deserted island. In that case, I might die here before aid came."
But thrusting all such thoughts as that aside, Rob determined to meet
the situation like a brave Scout.
"I won't give up till I'm at the last ditch," he said to himself with
determination, as he put on his clothes. "I'll fight it out to the end."
Somehow this resolution of his made the boy feel better. With renewed
courage he set out to explore the island. But he made the circuit of it
in vain. There was not a trace to be found of human habitation nor any
indication, except the stranded, sun-dried boat, that anyone but himself
had ever landed there.
So despondent did he feel over this discovery that had he possessed the
strength to do so, he would have swum back to the other island and
thrown himself on the mercy of his recent captors. But this was now out
of the question.
Unless he could find some way out of his dilemma, it looked as if he
would indeed be doomed to leave his bones on those sands. The thought
was a dreadful one, and although it was a warm, almost tropical day, the
boy shivered and cold sweat ran down his face.
If he were indeed to die there, nobody would ever know his fate, in all
probability. He had failed in his mission to recover the papers, too.
Altogether he felt in a very miserable frame of mind. It was in this
mood that, in order to keep his mind off his predicament, more than
anything else, he fell to examining the old boat again. There might be
some way to patch her up, he thought desperately, hoping against hope.
Suddenly he made a discovery that set his heart to beating wildly. On
the stern board of the boat was cut the name "_Good Hope_!"
THE DEAD MAN'S HOARD.
The "_Good Hope_!"
What a crowd of memories the name brought buzzing about the boy! The
lone derelict, the figure in the mouldering cabin, the--the plan in his
With fingers that trembled Rob drew out the solution of the cryptogram
and read it over.
Then he held his head in his hands a moment to keep it from whirling
Could it be possible that this was the island where the hoard of
century-old ivory was buried? Had he stumbled by a complete accident
upon the cache that had sent one man to his death?
Then he recalled that on his trip of exploration he had noticed a big
dead cypress on the other side of the island. But if this was the
veritable island where the whalers had buried their ivory, why was the
boat lying there mouldering on the beach? Why had they not left again?
The more the boy thought of it, the more mysterious and inexplicable the
whole thing became. He resolved to go back to the dead cypress and
follow the directions of the cryptic message of the captain of the _Good
As has been said, the island was not a large one, and he was not long in
reaching the gaunt, dead tree. Somehow he felt a chill go through him as
he stood beneath its leafless gray limbs. It reminded him oddly of that
skeleton in the deck house of the derelict.
But he pulled himself together and struck off into the woods in a
direction that, by using his watch as a compass, he knew to be the west.
The undergrowth was thick, but after going a few paces, he reached an
In the centre of this was a sight that made his heart jump and then beat
wildly. Strewn in every direction were big tusks of yellow ivory,
evidently lying just as they had been dug from the ground.
Rob was still contemplating them when his eye caught the flutter of a
rag of cloth at the edge of the open space. Attracted by a curiosity he
could not account for, he made his way toward it. If the sight of the
ivory had made him jump, what he now saw sent a chill of horror down his
spine. The rag that had fluttered had been part of the clothing of what
had once been two men.
Both lay close together, their bones showing where the cloth had worn
away under Time's finger. A pair of rusty pistols lying by each showed
how they had come to their death. The whole tragedy was as clear to Rob
as if he had seen it:--the quarrel between the two ivory stealers, the
duel with the pistols, and the death of both combatants beside the
treasure pile they had done so much wickedness to acquire.
"Truly that figure in the deck house is avenged," thought Rob, gazing
with horror-stricken eyes at the things before him. "Death was indeed
the wages of sin in their case."
Turning from the grisly relics of that far-off duel on the lonely
island, Rob fell to examining the ivory. There was a large quantity of
"It must be worth an immense sum," he thought.
But in the very moment of his triumph, Rob suddenly recollected what, in
his excitement, he had entirely forgotten for the moment. He was a
castaway on a strange, uninhabited island, with only a few tins of beef
between him and starvation. Thirst he did not fear, for close to where
he had struggled ashore was a spring of sweet, cool water.
Rob made his way back to the beach and the boat. Inside the boat he now
noticed what had hitherto escaped his attention. There were several
hundred feet of light rope which seemed to be still in fairly good
condition. There was, too, a pair of oars. At the same moment the boy
was seized by a sudden idea. He could get away from the island, and in a
His Boy Scout training had made him fertile in ideas, and if the present
one succeeded it would mean his escape from a terrible fate.
+ + + + +
Ensign Hargreaves and Mr. Barr looked sternly at each other.
"There is only one man who could have taken that lever," said the
"And that is who?"
"The rascal Barton."
"But for what possible object?"
"I cannot think unless he has hidden it and will only give it up as the
price of his liberty."
"But if he keeps us down here, he will die, too."
"He is playing his life against ours and he holds the cards."
"Not for long. Come below at once. We must act quickly. There is a
chance he still has it on his person."
Down the stairs they ran, leaving Merritt at the wheel with a sinking
feeling of fear clutching at his heart. If Barton, turned desperate, had
hidden the key and would not reveal its hiding place, it meant that they
must remain in the depths till death put an end to their sufferings.
In the meantime, the ensign and Mr. Barr, both excited, had rushed
through the cabin and toward the engine room. As they approached the
door, it was slammed and a pistol thrust through a small hole in it,
which had been cut for ventilation.
Then Barton's voice came ringing out:
"Don't come a step closer unless you want to get a bullet in you."
"What's the matter, man, are you mad?" exclaimed Mr. Barr.
A shriek of demoniacal laughter was the sole response.
It sent a shudder through everyone who heard it. The man was mad,
violently insane. The seeds of lunacy, which had been germinating in his
brain for a long time, had burst forth into a terrible harvest.
"And on that man everyone of our lives depends," breathed the ensign.
Then in a louder tone, which rang with authority:
"Barton, did you take that ascending lever?"
"Yes; ha-ha-ha! It's a good joke on you! You thought you'd put me in
prison, but now we'll all die together."
"Barton," pleaded Mr. Barr, "be rational. Return that lever and you
shall have immunity."
"It's too late now!" screamed the demented wretch. "We'll all die
together in the depths of the sea, where dead men's bones rot and the
fish eat their eyes out."
A hasty consultation followed between the ensign and Mr. Barr. The man
was undoubtedly violently insane, and there didn't seem a chance in the
world of dislodging him from his position.
The situation was the more serious from the fact that the fresh air
devices were not working properly and the air inside the submarine was
already getting noticeably stale and foul.
"We must rush that door; it's our only chance," declared the officer in
a whispered voice.
"But he is liable to shoot," objected Mr. Barr, eying the blued-steel
muzzle of the revolver which was pointed threateningly at them.
"It cannot be helped. It means death in a fearful form if we do not
dislodge him from that position, and a man in his condition cannot
listen to reason."
"Well, what do you propose?"
"That you start talking to him to distract his attention, offer him
money or anything to give up the lever. Then I'll watch my chance and
rush in on him; thank goodness, that door has no lock on it."
"Barton!" said Mr. Barr, in a resonant voice.
"Well?" snarled the lunatic.
"Be calm now and listen to reason. Is it money you wish?"
"No, blood! Human lives!" shrieked the maniac.
At precisely that instant, like a projectile from a gun the ensign's
powerful body shot forward. Crash came his solid one hundred and
eighty-five pounds against the door.
At the same instant there was another crash, the sharp crack of a
revolver! In that confined space it sounded terribly loud.
"He's shot him!" cried Mr. Barr.
But Barton had done nothing of the kind. The attack had been utterly
unexpected by him, and as the door banged against him with terrific
force, he had been knocked down. As he fell the revolver exploded;
before he could pull the trigger a second time the powerful young
officer of Uncle Sam's Navy was upon the man. Barton fought like a
wildcat, and with the superhuman strength of those afflicted with
At last, however, he was overpowered and, raving incoherently, was tied
hand and foot and carried out to the cabin where he was placed on a
lounge. Mr. Barr, who knew something of medicine, gave him a calming
dose from the submarine's medicine chest, and he became less violent.
"Barton, where did you put that lever?" demanded the ensign.
The man whimpered like a child.
"I--I don't remember," he gasped out.
Consternation showed on every face. Already the air was getting worse
The ensign bent over the bound man, who was now crying weakly.
"You must remember, man. You must, I say!" he snapped, in tones that cut
like the crack of a whip. "Think! think! our lives depend upon it!"
"If I knew, I would tell you," murmured the man; "but I don't. I don't
A stillness like death itself settled on the occupants of the cabin.
Barton had accomplished his insane purpose only too well, it seemed.
WHICH WILL WIN?
Rob's idea was a simple enough one. With his knife he would cut bundles
of branches and then bind them to the sides of the boat with the rope.
This would at least keep the crazy craft afloat and offer him a means of
reaching the shore.
He set to work at once with great enthusiasm, and by dusk his
strange-looking boat was ready to be launched. By placing round branches
under it for rollers and using another branch as a lever, he soon
succeeded in getting it into the water. But it was hard work, and he
paused to eat some of his canned beef before going any further.
To his huge delight the boat, though lopsided and half full of water,
was buoyed up by the branches, and he had no doubt that he could
navigate her with the oars. As soon as he had finished his unappetizing
meal, Rob clambered on board his "ark," as he mentally called her, and
thrust the oars into the rowlocks. The boat was very heavy, and owing to
her waterlogged condition pulled very hard. Worse still, Rob encountered
a current that carried him toward the other island, the one he had left
that morning; and even worse, a fact he presently perceived, his craft
was being carried around a point, on the opposite side of which he could
see the glow of a fire against the night sky; for by this time it was
dark. Rob was heartily glad that this was the case, for he knew that the
fire must be that of the rascals who had abducted him, and in the
darkness he might slip by them unnoticed.
Luckily the current set a bit from the shore at this point, and
although the boy could hear the three rascals carousing around their
fire over a keg of spirits, and singing and shouting at the top of their
voices, they could not see him, partly because of their condition, and
partly because of the firelight.
Past the camp, with its carousing inmates, the boy was carried, and
suddenly his boat was bumped against something. Rob looked around. At
first he thought he had struck a rock. Instead he saw before him the
green motor boat.
Like a flash an inspiration came to him. He clambered on board, and not
till he was fairly on deck did he recollect that he had neglected to tie
his ark to the side.
He looked over the stern rail. In the dim light he could see his clumsy
craft drifting off, bobbing up and down on the tide.
"Well, I've burned my bridges behind me now," he exclaimed to himself.
"If I can't carry this thing through, I'll be cold meat by morning."
Just at that moment came a shout from the outlaws carousing on the
Keener-eyed than his companions, Berghoff had spied a dark form on the
motor boat, silhouetted against the thickly sprinkled stars.
"There's someone stealing our boat. After him, boys!" Rob heard the
Then he ducked as a volley of bullets came whizzing over his head. His
next move was to clamber forward, keeping as low as possible till he
reached the anchor chain.
There was no time to haul in, for the men had already run down the beach
and launched their small boat.
Rob merely knocked out a shackle pin and let the whole thing go. This
done, he scrambled back and descended to the engine room.
"If I can't make this old tea-kettle go, I'm a gone coon," he admitted
to himself with grim humor, as he switched on gasoline and spark, and
turned the fly wheel over. Outside the shouts were coming closer every
instant, and the motor showed no signs of intending to start.
+ + + + +
It was Donald, the Wolf Scout, who saved the day for the prisoners of
As Barton rolled about whimpering and cursing by turns, he spied a
bright object protruding from the man's pocket.
"Is--is that the lever?" he asked, in tones that trembled with
Mr. Barr darted on the object and pulled it out with a shout of triumph.
"Once more the Boy Scouts have saved the day!" he cried. "It is the
lever, sure enough!"
Close as the atmosphere of the cabin had by this time become, they all
found breath enough to give three ringing cheers. In the conning tower
Merritt, at the wheel, heard them, and guessed what they meant.
Fifteen minutes later the submarine was shooting upward to the surface
toward the blessed air. With what speed the hatch was opened when they
reached the surface and could inhale the pure ozone once more, may be
imagined. As soon as they had somewhat recovered a red light was shown
from the stern, and presently the _Viper_ came chugging up.
"Well, where in the world have you been?" asked Tubby.
"Where _under_ the world, you mean," laughed Merritt; "but for a time it
was no laughing matter, I assure you."
He then gave his fellow Scout a description of all they had undergone.
When the excitement was over, word was given to get under way once more,
and with the submarine leading, and the _Viper_ following the red light,
they held their courses toward the south.
It was dawn when they found themselves off a maze of small islands and
islets. Donald had the wheel, and was gazing ahead as the submarine, at
reduced speed, threaded her way among the shoals and sand bars.
All at once he saw something coming toward them that made his pulses
beat far above normal.
It was a green motor boat, with a single military mast and a high cabin.
He lost no time in notifying everybody, and the submarine decks were
"Better get below, boys," warned the ensign; "that is undoubtedly the
rascals' boat. In fact, Merritt says he recognizes it. They are
desperate fellows, and when they see we have them cornered, they will
put up a fight. If they run, I mean to pursue them to the bitter end."
Reluctantly the boys went below, while the ensign and Mr. Barr stood on
the foredeck, revolvers in hand.
But although whoever was on the green boat must have seen them, the
craft came right on.
"Why, they actually mean to fight," gasped Mr. Barr.
"They're nervy fellows, all right," commented the ensign; "we may have a
tougher time of it than we think, Barr."
He turned and warned Tubby to take his boat back out of range. On and on
came the green boat without making a sign of any kind, hostile or
"What can they be up to?" wondered the ensign in tones of blank
Scarcely twenty feet intervened between the two boats now, when suddenly
a boyish figure, bareheaded and clad in a Boy Scout uniform, leaped to
the rail of the green craft.
"Kre-ee-ee-ee!" he shrilled out.
"The call of the Eagle Patrol!" gasped Mr. Barr.
"Yes, and by all that's wonderful, that lad is Rob Blake!" fairly
shouted the ensign, waving his cap.
By this time Tubby, too, had recognized his leader. The air rang with
cheers, shouts, questions and answers in a perfect babble of sound.
"Well, who on earth but a Boy Scout could get himself kidnapped and then
kidnap his abductors' boat!" exclaimed the ensign that evening as they
lay at anchor off Rob's "Ivory Island."
The climax of a wonderful day had been reached. Only one thing marred
it. The rascals who had pursued Rob, for he only got the engine going in
the nick of time, had got clear away in the rowboat. Possibly they
hailed a passing steamer and were picked up.
But, after all, their escape, while annoying, was not of so much
importance, for in their haste they had left behind the most important
papers and models, and the ones they had taken were valueless, Mr. Barr
declared, without the missing ones.
The next day, after a long evening of jollity, the _Viper_ set out for
Jamesport, S. C., with the unfortunate Barton bound with ropes to keep
him from further violent manifestations. The poor man never recovered
his reason, but died shortly after being admitted to an asylum. It
appeared that in his youth he had been an inmate of an institution for
the feeble-minded, but had been discharged as cured.
On the _Viper's_ return, work was begun on transferring the ivory, which
was ultimately sold for an amount that netted all of them a handsome
sum; for Rob insisted on sharing his good fortune with all his
THE ENDURANCE RUN.
The ensuing days, following the return to the island, were filled to
overflowing with activity. Exhaustive tests only made the _Peacemaker_
appear to be more and more the ideal type of boat for her particular
work. By means of the island wireless Ensign Hargreaves, using "code" of
course, sent glowing accounts to Washington of the progress of the
tests. In these despatches, too, the Boy Scouts were favorably mentioned
for their pluck and heroism in the pursuit of Berghoff and his rascally
One day, about two weeks after the return to the island, it was
determined by the ensign and Mr. Barr to make quite a run out to sea to
test to the full the endurance capacity of the _Peacemaker_. Rob and
Merritt were chosen to accompany them. The rest of the boys were left to
guard the island, which, among other valuable property, now housed the
precious ivory hoard recovered in such a strange manner.
The day dawned with a red, angry sky proclaiming nasty weather. But
this, instead of dampening the ardor of the inventor and his aides, only
increased it. It meant that the submarine was in for a real test in a
By the time they were ready to start, the wind had freshened into half a
gale and a high sea was running, heaping up big gray combers with white
tops which broke angrily.
Into this storm the _Peacemaker_ was headed without hesitation. On board
were the ensign, the inventor, Rob and Merritt. The two latter were to
serve watch and watch in the engine room, while the inventor and the
ensign placed themselves under a similar arrangement in the conning
Both Rob and Merritt were by this time fully conversant with the running
of the _Peacemaker's_ intricate machinery and were trusted to the full
by their superior officers.
"Gee! This feels like being afloat in an empty bottle!" exclaimed
Merritt as the _Peacemaker_ headed into the tumbling seas.
"It sure does," responded Rob, hanging on to a handhold while he oiled a
bearing. "I suppose they want to see how much she'll stand on the
"Wonder they wouldn't dive and give us a chance to get a little quiet,"
observed Merritt as the rolling, bucking _Peacemaker_ leaped, as it
seemed, skyward and then plunged dizzily down again.
"There must be a hummer of a sea outside. Guess, as I'm off duty, I'll
go up and see what's doing," said Rob presently.
He made his way with much difficulty toward the steel ladder leading
into the conning tower. The passage could only be made by fits and
starts, and the boy for the first time realized the necessity of the
handholds placed at frequent intervals on the cabin walls, to which
reference has already been made.
Reaching the ladder he scrambled up into the conning tower, and, once
inside, braced himself against the wild and erratic motions of the
_Peacemaker_. To see through the lenses was impossible. The seas that
swept over the little craft blurred the glass with green water and
obscured everything outside. But on the _Peacemaker_ this condition did
not matter. The contingency had been provided for.
The long arm of the periscope with its "eye" on top had been raised, and
it reached far above the biggest combers. In front of the helmsman, who
happened to be Mr. Barr, was a big plate of ground glass on which every
object outside was plainly shown, although of course in miniature.
Those of my readers who have ever seen a "camera obscura" will recognize
what I mean.
Upon the ground glass, as within a picture frame, was reproduced the
motion of the furious seas, the scurrying clouds and the angry storm
wrack. It was an inspiring marine painting, with the motion and sweep
that an actual painting could never possess. It thrilled Rob as he gazed
at it and realized that it was through this pandemonium of the storm
that the _Peacemaker_ was bravely fighting her way.
"Better slow down a bit, hadn't I?" asked Mr. Barr as the _Peacemaker_,
urged by her powerful engines, ploughed right through a mountainous sea.
As she bored her way through the mighty wall of green water, a roar like
that of a railroad train resounded and the craft pitched as if she were
going to plunge to the bottom of the sea. This latter, in fact, Rob
rather wished she would do. He knew that in the depths all would be
quiet and undisturbed.
In reply to Mr. Barr's question, the ensign nodded.
"The strain is already pretty strong," he said; "we don't want to force
her too hard."
Accordingly the inventor, utilizing the auto control device, cut down
the speed till, instead of ploughing through the waves, the _Peacemaker_
skimmed over them. Unlike most submarines, which cannot do otherwise
than plunge into heavy seas, the _Peacemaker's_ hull was so constructed
that she rode the waves like a duck.
After a while the sensation of heaving and falling began to get upon Mr.
"I'm feeling a bit squeamish," he declared; "let's dive and get out of
The ensign nodded and laughed.
"Our friend Rob here is getting a bit pale, too," he said; "and as we
don't want a sea-sick crew, maybe we had better seek the seclusion of
Davy Jones' locker."
An instant later the _Peacemaker_ was plunging downward. At a depth of
twenty feet the angry motion of the waves was unfelt. In those dim
depths all was as quiet and undisturbed as if the elements were at
perfect peace above.
Down, down dropped the submarine till her depth indicator showed that
she was submerged five hundred fathoms.
"The chart gives seven hundred hereabouts," commented Ensign Hargreaves,
glancing at it; "so I guess we are safe for forty miles more before the
floor of the ocean slopes upward. We must go up a bit higher then."
The inventor nodded.
"I understand," he said, and then, "we are now running at what speed?"
The ensign turned to the speed indicator.
"A trifle under twenty miles an hour," he said.
Mr. Barr glanced at the clock before him, which was illuminated by a
tiny shaded electric bulb.
"I'll keep on this course at this speed for about two hours then," he
"That will be all right, I imagine," was the rejoinder, "but don't keep
on too long. The bed of the sea, according to the chart, rises up very
rapidly further on. It must be almost cliff-like in its sudden
"I'll be on the lookout," the inventor assured him.
Rob descended the ladder once more and reentered the engine room to find
out how Merritt was getting along. He found the young engineer seated on
the leather lounge alongside the engines watching them lovingly.
"Work smoothly, don't they?" he said.
"They sure do," was the other's response; "smoothly as a Geneva watch."
The boys sat chatting on various matters, and the time flew along
rapidly till Rob suddenly looked at his watch.
"Almost two hours. It's time we were rising," he said.
"What do we want to rise for? It's deep enough here, isn't it?"
"That's just it. The ensign says that the chart shows that a sort of
submarine cliff looms up right ahead of us somewhere hereabouts."
"Great ginger snaps! I thought the bottom of the sea was as level as a
"Not a bit of it. It's as full of mountainous regions and flat,
depressed plains and valleys as the Rockies themselves."
"Gee whiz! I'd hate to hit one of them. I----"
Merritt stopped short. A terrific crash shook the submarine from stem to
stern. Rob saved himself from falling into the machinery by seizing a
For an instant the vibration lasted, and then the diving craft came to a
The boys gazed at each other with blanched faces.
Did the crash mean that they had actually struck one of the submerged
ranges that make deep sea traveling full of dangers? Had Mr. Barr
delayed too long in rising?
On the answer to these questions both boys felt that their lives
They were still regarding each other with consternation when the ensign
burst into the cabin.
"Shut off the engines instantly!" he ordered.
"What have we struck? That submerged cliff that you feared?" Rob managed
to gasp out, while Merritt hastened to obey the officer's command.
"I--I don't know," was the reply, "but I fear that we are in serious
THE SUPREME TEST.
"Open the side window panel and turn on the searchlight!"
The order came from Mr. Barr five minutes after the _Peacemaker_ struck.
Naturally enough, everyone on board was seriously alarmed; but in the
face of danger the Boy Scouts took their example for action from the
naval officer and the inventor.
Although deadly pale, Mr. Barr kept his voice as cool as an icicle.
Ensign Hargreaves, while fully realizing the danger, yet steeled himself
to calmness; and both Rob and Merritt simulated the courage of their
Rob hastened to obey Mr. Barr's command. After a few seconds of
manipulation the slide drew back, exposing the large plate glass panel.
To bring the powerful searchlight into play was the work of but a
As its white rays pierced the gloomy depths of the ocean like a scimitar
of light, all on board peered intently from the panel and strove to make
out what it was that the diving boat had struck.
At first nothing could be seen but the dark water with myriads of fish
swarming about the bright light, which appeared to attract them as moths
are attracted to an arc light.
"Swing the light," ordered Mr. Barr; "bring it to bear a little more
Rob obeyed, and the ray of light swung in an arc through the obscurity
outside of the _Peacemaker_. All at once, with a sharp exclamation, Rob
"Look! look!" he cried, pointing from the window.
They looked and saw before them what appeared to be a steep acclivity,
ribbed and rocky as a mountain side. It was against this submerged cliff
that the _Peacemaker_ had struck.
"That submarine cliff appears to be of a soft formation," declared the
ensign after a brief scrutiny; "our bow has driven into it."
"Then we are doomed to remain here?" asked Merritt with a bit of a
quiver in his voice.
"Not necessarily. It's up to us now to do all we can to extricate
The question came from Rob, whose voice, try as he would, persisted in
faltering. It was an awful feeling to experience, this of being penned
scores of fathoms beneath the ocean's surface in a diving boat.
"Well, I have a plan in mind. It is a desperate one, but possibly it may
"What do you propose to do?"
This time it was the inventor who propounded the query. Clearly enough
Mr. Barr himself could think of no way out of the quandary.
"I don't care to say just yet," responded the naval officer.
"Because it is a sort of forlorn hope that I don't care to advocate
until absolute necessity arises."
In the dire extremity into which they were plunged, not one of them
cared just then to waste time by asking questions. Clearly Uncle Sam's
officer was at the head of affairs. In silence they awaited his next
"Rob, you must reverse the engines. Give them all the power they will
stand. It's just possible that we may be able to back out without
injury, although I fear that we are pretty deeply buried in this cliff."
Rob, accompanied by Merritt, hastened to obey. Together the two boys
entered the engine room, and Rob at once operated the mechanism which
caused the _Peacemaker_ to go backward.
As he pulled over the lever and the engines began to whirr and buzz,
everyone on the boat waited breathlessly for the result. But the
_Peacemaker_ did not move. Under the strain of her laboring engines the
steel fabric shook and chattered, but not an inch did the diving boat
Rob and Merritt exchanged despairing glances.
"Can't you get any more power out of her?" asked Merritt anxiously.
Rob shook his head.
"Not a bit more, old man. She's running at her utmost now."
"Then we're stuck?"
"It looks that way."
"And we're doomed to die right here unless the nose of the boat can be
got out of that cliff!"
"Never say, 'die,' Merritt. We've done the best we can, and remember the
ensign said that he had a plan if all else failed."
"Yes, 'a forlorn hope' he called it."
"In a case like this we can endure anything. Desperate situations
require desperate means to solve them."
As the young Scout leader spoke, Ensign Hargreaves burst into the engine
The engines were still whirring and buzzing, and the hull of the
_Peacemaker_ was quivering under their powerful stress.
"Have you developed every ounce of power they are capable of?" asked the
"Yes, sir," responded Rob respectfully; "they can't do another
The officer looked anxious.
"In that case, we shall have to resort to my forlorn hope," he said.
"And what is that, sir?" asked Rob, his heart beating uncomfortably
"Come forward and you shall see."
The ensign turned and swung out of the engine room, followed closely by
two anxious boys, Rob having waited only to shut off the engines.
In the main cabin Mr. Barr, his face white and strained, sat on one of
the leather divans.
He looked up as the boys and the naval officer entered.
"The engines won't back her out?" he asked in a voice harsh and rough
"No. I'm sorry, Barr, but we're in a mighty bad fix. This submarine
cliff must be of a sort of blue clay formation that is common off this
coast. We have apparently driven into it so far that nothing short of an
earthquake would dislodge us."
"Yes; such a spasm of nature alone can set us free."
"Then we are doomed to remain here."
"Not of necessity; we have still a chance of escape."
"What do you mean?"
"That my plan offers a mere chance."
"Then let us not delay in putting it into execution."
"But it is a dangerous one!"
"Never mind that. Nothing could be more serious than our present
"Very well then, we will try out my idea. It's our last chance."
"Our last chance!" The words sounded to the boys almost like a requiem.
Plainly enough, whatever Ensign Hargreaves' plan might be, there were
dangers attached to it, and no light dangers, either, to judge from his
grave tones. Eagerly they awaited his next words.
"My plan is nothing more nor less than this," he said; "I propose to
create an earthquake."
"To _create_ an earthquake!" Mr. Barr echoed the words, staring at the
ensign as if he thought he had gone suddenly insane.
"Precisely. I intend to produce by artificial means an eruption which
will destroy enough of this cliff to set us free, or else blow the
_Peacemaker_ herself into atoms."
Mr. Barr buried his head in his hands. Skillful inventor and scientific
expert though he was, the last words of the naval officer had sapped
even his iron courage.
"Is there no other way?"
"No other way. It's a gamble for our lives."
"What do you propose doing?" asked Mr. Barr in a strange, broken voice.
"As I said, to create an artificial earthquake."
"I am unable to follow you."
"Then I'll make it clearer. In the torpedo compartment forward you have
six Red Head torpedoes fully charged with gun cotton?"
The inventor was regarding the naval officer with intense interest now,
and the boys also stood transfixed, their eyes riveted on the ensign as
he unfolded his plan.
"What I propose to do," he continued, "is to discharge from the side
torpedo tubes two torpedoes. They will be aimed at the cliff and, of
course, when they strike it, will explode."
"But in that case our bow would be blown off also, and we should perish
almost instantly," declared Mr. Barr.
"Wait a minute. I didn't say we would discharge them _directly_ at the
cliff. What I propose doing is this: We will aim one on each side of the
spot where our bow drove in, taking care to train the tubes so that the
torpedoes will not strike too near."
"Yes, the tubes are movable. That is one of the features of the
"Very well, then, they will be as easy to train in any desired direction
as a rapid fire gun."
"Exactly. But I never thought when I designed them that I might some day
owe my life to that very feature."
"Well, we are by no means out of the woods yet," responded the ensign
He led the way to the forward torpedo room. This was right in the bow of
the boat and most of the space was occupied by odd-looking machinery.
Wheels, worm gears and strange-looking levers were everywhere. At the
farthest end of the steel-walled chamber was a sort of derrick
contrivance. This was the piece of machinery used to raise the torpedoes
and swing them into the tubes.
Like the other machinery on the _Peacemaker_, the derrick was operated
by electricity. A pull of a lever and Mr. Barr had set its machinery in
motion. The torpedoes were placed on racks so that it was a simple
matter to secure them to the lifting chain of the derrick. First one and
then another of the polished steel implements of deadly warfare were
raised to the mouths of the torpedo tubes which projected into the
Despite their immense weight, the torpedoes were placed within the tubes
with no more difficulty than a sportsman experiences in shoving two
cartridges into the breech of his gun.
In ten minutes from the time the party entered the torpedo chamber, the
steel implements of death had been "rammed home" and the breech of the
tubes clamped and fastened. On the _Peacemaker_ type of submarine
compressed air at an enormous pressure was used to give the torpedoes a
start, although, of course, they contained the usual machinery within
themselves to drive them through the water after they left the tubes.
There followed a moment of suspense as the compressed air, with a
hissing sound, rushed into the tubes.
Mr. Barr, deadly pale but without a tremor in his voice, announced that
all was ready.
The ensign merely nodded and began to operate a worm gear which swung
the tubes at an acuter angle to the body of the submarine vessel.
"I think we are all right now," he said presently.
"Very well," spoke the inventor, his hand on a lever, "when you say the
word, I'll discharge the torpedoes."
"You might as well do it right now," was the response.
The inventor, with hands that shook, swung the lever back.
There was a hissing sound and a slight tremor as the compressed air shot
the torpedoes from the tubes. Less than a second later, simultaneously
it seemed, the submarine was rocked and swayed by a terrific convulsion.
The boys and their elders were thrown right and left with a force that
almost knocked them senseless.
It was but a few moments after the explosion of the two torpedoes that
Ensign Hargreaves uttered a shout that thrilled them all.
"We're rising!" he cried. "My plan succeeded after all!"
"I think that we ought to give thanks to Providence," said Mr. Barr
reverently. "As the ensign has said, the plan succeeded, but it was
taking one chance in a thousand. Had that cliff not been shaken so as to
release us, we might have perished miserably and left our fate a
The boys were in the conning tower by the conclusion of Mr. Barr's
words. The barograph showed them to be rising a hundred feet a minute.
No words were exchanged between the two young Scouts, but each grasped
the other's hand in a firm grip and gazed into the other's eyes. There
was no necessity of speech. Both realized that they had passed through
the gravest peril that even they had experienced in all their
When the _Peacemaker_ reached the surface once more, the storm had
subsided. With their hearts full of deep gratitude for the miraculous
chance that had saved their lives, her occupants headed the speedy
diving craft back for the island at top speed. The _Peacemaker_ had been
through the supreme test and had not been found lacking.
"I tell you what, Barr," declared Ensign Hargreaves, as they neared the
familiar island, "you have the most wonderful boat on earth, and Uncle
Sam has _got_ to have it. My report goes in to Washington to-morrow and
you can guess what it will contain."
"Thank you," said the inventor simply, extending his hand.
INTO THE JAWS OF DEATH.
"That's queer, Rob!"
"What's queer, Merritt, the way you've been sitting and staring for the
last ten minutes?"
"No; that odd noise. Don't you hear it?"
The two lads were seated in the cabin of the submarine on "night guard
duty," as it was called. Following the anxious days when Berghoff had
made affairs on the island so filled with uneasiness for the Scouts and
their friends, this sentry duty had been regularly maintained.
On this particular night the task had fallen to Rob and Merritt. There
was nothing very arduous about it, the only duty involved being to keep
ears and eyes open. Both lads had been engrossed in books dealing with
their favorite subjects when Merritt called Rob's attention to the odd
sound he had noticed.
"Maybe my ears are not quite so sharp as yours, old boy," said Rob,
after an interval of listening. "I've got a slight cold, anyhow, and
perhaps that's why I don't hear so readily."
"You are sure you weren't mistaken?"
"Think I'm hearing things?" indignantly responded Merritt. "No, siree,
I'm willing to bet. Hark! There it is again!"
"By Hookey! I heard it that time, too. What can it be?"
The noise was a most peculiar one. It seemed to be a sort of scraping on
the outside of the submarine's hull. The diving craft was anchored at
some distance from the shore, so as to be more readily prepared for a
projected run the following day. This made the noise all the more
inexplicable, as, had the craft been in the shed, it might have been
caused by the inventor or the ensign paying a night visit to see that
all was well, which they sometimes did.
"Perhaps it's a log bumping against the side."
"No; it appears to come from under the water."
"That's so," agreed Rob; "tell you what, Merritt, it's up to us to
"Yes, let's go on deck and see what we can find out."
Together the two lads climbed the steel stairway leading to the conning
tower, and presently emerged on the rounded steel back of the diving
craft. They stood here for a minute or two, trying to get their eyes
used to the sudden change from the bright light of the cabin to the inky
darkness of the night. It was overcast and starless, and it was
impossible under any condition to see more than a few yards about them.
Suddenly Rob clasped Merritt's arm with a grip that made the other lad
"Look! Look there!" he cried. "Off there. It's gone now. It only showed
up for an instant."
"It's your turn to be nervous," rejoined Merritt; "blessed if I saw
"My eyes must be as sharp as your ears, then. I'd swear I saw a shadowy
thing sneak away from us across the water."
"What sort of a thing?"
"A boat. I only saw it an instant, of course; but I'm sure I wasn't
"You think that somebody in that boat was monkeying with the
"That's the only reasonable explanation."
"But what could they have been doing?"
"That remains to be seen; but it's our duty to try to find out."
"What's your plan?"
"Well, that scraping noise appeared to me to come from the under side of
"Then that's the place to look for mischief."
"But how are you going to get at it?"
"Dive over and feel around at about the place where we heard the sound."
"That was on the port side and apparently right under the cabin floor."
"Then that's the place to look."
As he spoke, the young leader of the Eagles stripped off his shirt, for
the night was warm and he was coatless, and then divested himself in
turn of his shoes and trousers.
This done, he turned to Merritt.
"I don't know just why, old fellow," he said, "but I've got an idea in
my head, somehow, that there's some sort of dirty trick being put up
"What do you mean?"
Merritt asked the question looking into his comrade's eyes as he clasped
Rob's extended hand. For some reason he felt a cold shudder run through
him. What the danger was that Rob dreaded he did not know, but there
was something in the hand-shake that his leader gave him that almost
seemed like a farewell clasp.
Before his inquiry was fairly out of Merritt's mouth, Rob had disengaged
his palm and slipped silently over the side of the submarine. As the
waters closed above him, Merritt almost cried out aloud. The same
mysterious sense of a danger, terrible and imminent, had run through his
brain like a warning flash. But it was too late to recall his comrade
Whatever peril Rob was facing, he was called upon to brave it out alone.
* * * * *
Earlier that evening a small, but fast and high-powered motor boat had
glided almost silently out of Bellport, a fishing village on the coast,
and, waiting till darkness had descended, made at top speed for the
vicinity of the submarine island.
The men who had chartered the craft were two in number. Both were
strangers in Bellport, having driven over there that afternoon from the
adjacent railway station of Farmington. One was an old man,
stoop-shouldered and bleary-eyed. The other was an individual of about
thirty, tall, emaciated, and with a wild light dancing in his crafty
eyes, which darted back and forth as if constantly on the lookout for
Going directly to the Bellport Hotel, they had inquired of Enos
Hardcastle, the proprietor, where they could hire a motor boat.
"A fast one?" croaked the old man.
"The faster the better," supplemented his companion, in a queer, rasping
Enos scratched his head.
"Wa'al, motor boat's is scarce around here, though some of ther boys
uses 'em in fishing," he said finally.
"Good!" exclaimed the younger of the pair of strangers. "Direct us to
the man who has the fastest one."
"That's Lem Higgins; but Lem drives a hard bargain. It'll cost ye----"
"Never mind the cost; never mind the cost," croaked the old man
impatiently. "Come, Ivan, let's find this Higgins."
"You go ter ther foot of this street and you'll find Lem down on ther
wharf," directed the landlord of the Bellport Hotel, whose curiosity was
by this time aroused. There was something odd about the two strangers,
almost as odd as the large black bag the younger one carried. This
receptacle he held as gingerly as if it contained some article of the
most fragile description.
"Beg pardon, strangers," spoke up Enos, "but what might you be after
havin' in that bag?"
The slender man turned a pair of blazing orbs on him.
"What business is that of yours?" he snapped out, his queer eyes
appearing to emit sparks of malignant fury.
Enos hastened to extend the olive branch.
"Oh, no harm, no harm," he hurriedly exclaimed. "I thought thet you two
might be sellin' suthin' the wife 'ud have a use fer, thet's all. Wanted
to give you a chancet ter drive a trade."
"I reckon your wife wouldn't care much for what's in this bag," snarled
the old man viciously; "and let me give you a bit of advice, my friend:
Don't ask questions and you'll be told no lies."
So saying, the two oddly assorted strangers made off down the street,
the tall one still carrying the black bag with precise care.
Enos reentered his hotel, wagging his head sententiously.
"Suthin' queer about them two fellers," he muttered to himself; "ain't
sellin' nuthin' an' they don't look as if they was on a pleasure trip.
Wa'al, it's none of my business, but if Lem makes a dicker with 'em
he'll hev ter come across to me with a commission, an' that's all I care
Lem Higgins was sitting on the wharf, swinging his legs and regarding
with interest an imminent fight between two dogs of the "yaller"
variety, when the old man and his tall companion came up.
"Your name is Lem Higgins?" asked the old man sharply.
"That's what they usually say when they want me," responded Lem. "Do you
"We want your boat."
Lem's eyes lightened. Fishing had been poor, and perhaps here was a
chance to make some easy money. He scrambled to his feet, showing
"You want my boat? You want ter hire her, you mean?"
"Yes. What's your figure?"
The old man was doing all the talking now. His tall companion stood
silently by. At his side was the black bag, which he had deposited on
the ground with the same curious care that had marked all his dealings
with the mysterious article.
Lem ruminated a minute, looked seaward, ejected a small fountain of
tobacco juice, and then asked, with his head cocked on one side:
"Where might you be a-goin'?"
"Never mind that, my friend. That is none of your business."
The old man spoke sharply. Lem regarded him blankly.
"None o' my business! Then how in Sam Hill am I a-goin' ter run the
"You are not going to run it."
"I ain't, eh?"
Lem was all "taken back," as he would have put it. He had been figuring
on a good price for the hire of the boat and a further fee for himself
as skipper. Certainly neither of the pair before him looked capable of
handling a power boat.
"No; if we take your boat we shall run it ourselves."
The astonished Lem gazed at the stooped figure before him. He was almost
bereft of words.
"Yes, I will; does that satisfy you?"
"Wa'al, I'll be plumb dummed," choked out the fisherman; "I should think
you'd know more about crutches an' arm-chairs than about running
"Your opinion is not of the slightest interest to me. How much do you
want for the boat?"
"Fer how long?"
"From about sunset till daylight to-morrow."
"Fer all night, you mean?"
"That's a queer time to go out."
"Possibly; but we choose to do it. If you don't want to let your boat,
say so, and have done with it. We'll find another."
"Oh, as far as thet's consarned, ef you kin run her I don't mind ef you
go out any old time. But I'd like ter see ef you kin, afore we go any
"Where is she?"
"Right out there. I'll row you out to her. Come on down this ladder;
easy, now. You're pretty old for this sort of work."
But, despite the old man's apparent decrepitude, he stepped down the
steep and rather rickety ladder, at the foot of which lay a dory, with
the agility of a youth. His companion declared that he would remain on
Guessing that he didn't want to leave the bag, of which he seemed so
careful, Lem hailed him.
"Come on and bring your grip, ef ye scared o' leavin' it," he said.
But the other shook his head, and Lem pulled out toward his launch with
only the old man as passenger. The launch was a black, rakish-looking
craft, and once on board the old man expressed approval of the powerful,
two-cylindered engine with which she was equipped.
"Say, you do know suthin' about ingines, don't yer?" admired Lem, after
a few sharp questions had shown him that the queer old man really knew
what he was talking about.
A muttered grunt was the only reply. The old man was spinning the
fly-wheel over, after making a few adjustments of the gasoline and spark
supply. A moment later the motor was sputtering and coughing, and the
launch was struggling at her moorings.
Lem cast off and ran the craft about the harbor for a while. At the
conclusion of the test he was satisfied that the old man actually did
understand the workings of gasoline motors. Returning to the wharf, it
only remained for a bargain to be struck, and this was speedily done.
But Lem still held out for something more.
"Seein' as I don't know you an' you're takin' ther boat out alone, I
ought ter hev a deposit or suthin'," he declared, his eyes narrowing.
"What's your boat worth?" demanded the old man.
"Wa'al, I paid a thousand fer her," rejoined Lem, who had only doubled
the actual sum the launch cost him.
"Here you are."
The old man reached into a recess of his black coat and produced a roll
of currency, which Lem later declared to his cronies would have "choked
a horse." Rapidly peeling off several bills of large denomination, he
paid the exorbitant deposit, plus the price agreed upon for the hire of
the boat for the night. Lem, too astonished to do more than stutter,
pocketed the money without a word.
"One thing more," said the old man; "we shall need a small boat to tow
"Oh, then yer goin' ter land some place?"
Lem, having recovered the use of his voice, had also regained his rural
The old man regarded him angrily, and then, in his peculiar, snarling
voice, he whipped out:
"What's that to you? We've paid you too much for your boat, and you know
it. Here's fifty dollars more. That's not to ask any questions and not
to answer any."
"Oh, I'll keep mum," Lem assured him, pocketing the extra money with
sparkling eyes. "When you're ready to go, I'll have a small boat ready
for you, never fear."
"Good. We'll be here at five o'clock sharp."
The old man and his companion sauntered off up the street. Lem watched
them till they entered the Bellport Hotel. Then, to himself, he
exclaimed in tones that fairly burst out of him:
"Wa'al, what d'ye know about that? Them chaps is either lunatics or
millionaires, or both. Wa'al, it's none of my affair, an' there might be
things I wouldn't do for fifty dollars, but keepin' my mouth shut for a
while ain't one of 'em. What a yarn I'll have ter tell when them two
chaps gets out of town! Kain't get over thet old feller, though. Fer all
his years, he's spry as a boy; suthin' mighty funny about both on 'em."
With this, Lem resumed his seat on the edge of the wharf and dismissed
the matter from his mind as far as was possibly consistent with the
knowledge of the--to him--gigantic sum reposing in his blue jeans.
Yet, had he known it, he was letting slip through his fingers the
possibility of earning a far larger sum. For the man with the queer eyes
was Ivan Karloff, a notorious anarchist, for whom a reward of five
thousand dollars was offered, following a bomb outrage in New York, and
his companion was Berghoff himself.
What were these two men doing in Bellport? Why did they want a fast boat
for a mysterious night trip?
The answers to these questions would have held a burning interest for
our friends on the submarine island. Like a vicious snake, Berghoff was
preparing to strike what he hoped would be a vital blow at the
_Peacemaker_ and her guardians. Crafty and unscrupulous, he had invested
in his services Ivan Karloff, whose price for dangerous undertakings
was high, but whose skill in his nefarious line of endeavor was supreme.
It was about midnight when Lem Higgins' motor boat crept up to a spot
not far from where the _Peacemaker_ lay at anchor. Behind her she towed
the promised small boat. Berghoff, as we must now call the old man, was
at the engines. His companion was steering.
"Is this near enough?" inquired Karloff, in a low tone, as Berghoff
slowed up the engines.
"Yes. We want to run no chances. It would not be pleasant for either of
us to be nipped now."
No more words were exchanged till the anchor was noiselessly let drop.
Then Berghoff spoke.
"Have you got everything?"
"Yes; it's all in the bag--the wire, the batteries, and all. Wonder what
those farmers would have done if they could have guessed what else we
had in there?"
"Gone through the ceiling, I reckon," chuckled Berghoff grimly; "but
come on, let's get to work. We may have a long job to find the
"Yes, and we've no time to lose. After the job's done the quicker we put
the Atlantic between us and Uncle Sam, the better," was the reply.
"You're not nervous, are you?"
"Nervous! My friend, I have done more dangerous jobs than this."
Depositing the bag carefully in the small boat, the two men rowed off.
They made absolutely no noise as they proceeded, the reason for this
being that the oars had been carefully muffled soon after they left
Bellport, and felt free from observation.
After ten minutes or so of rowing, Berghoff laid a hand on his
"What is it?" asked Karloff, who was rowing.
"Look right ahead. What's that?"
"The glow of a light. Can that be it?"
"It must be. That light is reflected from the conning tower. There is
somebody on board."
"That matters not, if they are not on deck. Even so, we can take care of
"You mean to hurl it?"
"Yes; but I'd rather fasten it to the craft itself. It's safer for us
and more effective."
A diabolical grin stole over the anarchist's face as he spoke. He
resumed his cautious rowing.
"There's no one on deck," declared Berghoff, as they crept closer to the
dark outlines of the anchored submarine.
"Good; then we can do our work quickly. Have you everything ready?"
"Yes; we'll be alongside in a minute. Don't make a failure of it."
"I have never failed yet," was the quiet reply, spoken in a voice so
menacing and evil that it would have caused a shudder to run through any
one less hardened than the man to whom it was addressed.
Rob flashed to the surface after a longer interval than Merritt would
have believed it possible for anybody to remain submerged. As he
appeared, Merritt rushed to aid him upon the slippery deck of the
Rob shook his head, as Merritt tried to draw him up. Instead, he choked
"A pair of pliers. Quick! Our lives depend upon it."
Merritt, who had been working on the engine, happened to have the
required tool in his pocket. Without a word, he handed it to Rob. From
his leader's manner he knew that down there under the water the boy had
discovered some deadly hidden peril. Breathlessly, he watched for his
reappearance, for the instant he received the pliers Rob had dived.
* * * * *
In the rowboat which they had towed out from Bellport, Berghoff and his
companion sat bending over some object. Had it been daylight it could
have been seen that this object was a battery box.
Also, daylight would have revealed Berghoff's face as being white and
drawn under his disguise; but his companion's evil countenance never
changed an iota, as his long fingers sought and found the button of the
battery box which lay before him on a thwart.
From this box two wires led off into the darkness. When the button was
pressed a flash of electricity would pass through those wires and the
climax of a fiendishly ingenious plot would be reached. In the tense
silence that preceded the pressing of the button, Berghoff's breath
could be heard coming gaspingly. His companion, on the other hand,
appeared as cool as an icicle.
"Are you certain we are far enough away?" stammered Berghoff.
"Absolutely. I have no desire to be hoisted by my own petard. Now then,
if you are ready, say the word."
"I--I----" stammered Berghoff.
"Bah! You are a coward; come, I am all ready."
"I don't mind the submarine, curse it; but it's the thought of the lives
on board her."
"My friend, you are too sensitive. Come, are you ready?"
"Ye-es," choked out Berghoff, his teeth chattering, and the sweat
pouring off his face. The man was shaking like a leaf, and his breath
came raspingly from between his half-opened lips.
He steeled himself to utter the signal firmly, but it was merely a harsh
whisper that issued from his dry throat.
The long fingers pressed down. Berghoff, swaying like a stricken thing,
placed his hands before his eyes. But the sound that both had been
expecting did not come. No roaring explosion followed the pressing of
the button, no flash of livid flame and shattering of the wonderful
structure of steel they had hoped to destroy. A death-like stillness
"You've failed!" choked out Berghoff.
His companion's eyes flashed in the darkness like a cat's. He swallowed
"There is only one explanation," he snarled.
"And that is?"
"That they have discovered the mine. My friend, we had better be leaving
as soon as possible. It will not be good for us to be found in this
At that very moment two boys were standing with horror-stricken eyes on
the deck of the submarine. In his hands Rob held a peculiar looking
cylinder of steel. From one end of it hung two severed wires. It was so
weighted and balanced as to float a distance of about five feet under
the surface of the water.
"If I hadn't found those wires and cut them," Rob said, in an
But Merritt did not answer. He could only clasp his companion's hand.
The realization of the fearfully narrow limit by which they had escaped
death almost overcame him. The night was hot, but both boys shivered as
if stricken with the ague. It was some minutes before they could give
the alarm to those on shore. Then the rapid blowing of the whistle used
by the submarine when on the surface signalled their companions.
Some fifteen minutes later two pale-faced, wild-eyed lads were
explaining to an absorbed group the foiling of the diabolical plot
against Uncle Sam's diving boat. It was not long after, that the
submarine was rushing through the water for the nearest harbor.
"If we can arouse the police along the coast we may yet be able to
capture the authors of this outrage," exclaimed the ensign, as at full
speed the _Peacemaker_ clove through the waters.
"Yes; it's hardly probable that they had as swift a boat as this,"
agreed Mr. Barr. "If we can get ashore ahead of them, we can cause a
police net to be spread that they can scarcely break through."
But it was decreed that the fate of Berghoff and his companion should be
a different one. Suddenly, off to port of the _Peacemaker_, the night
was split by a roar and a red flash of flame.
"Great Scott! What was that?" gasped out Ensign Hargreaves.
"The searchlight--quick!" cried Mr. Barr.
In an instant the great beam of white light was cutting the night like a
fiery sword. Suddenly its rays concentrated on a dark object not far
distant from the _Peacemaker_.
Within the radiant circle was limned a strange picture. Two men were
struggling in the water, while beside them the outline of a boat showed
for an instant and then vanished forever.
At top speed the _Peacemaker_ was rushed to the scene. She reached it in
time for those on board to see one of the two men struggling in the
water throw up his arms. The next instant, with a shuddering cry, that
might have been either defiance or agony, he vanished as had the boat.
The other man was picked up. He was an old man, seemingly, and almost
exhausted from his struggle with the waves. But, as he was being dragged
on board, a strange thing occurred. The salt water, with which he was
drenched, had likewise soaked his beard and hair. As he was hauled over
the sloping deck of the submarine his beard and hair slipped away, and
there before them lay Berghoff, seemingly dead or dying.
As soon as they had recovered from their amazement, he was carried below
and made as comfortable as possible; for it was found that he was
shockingly burned. The chart was consulted, and it was reckoned that
Bellport was the closest place at which to land. And so it came about,
that Berghoff--or the wreck of the man--was brought back to the very
spot from which he and his ill-fated companion had set out on their
Under close police guard the injured man was carried to the local
hospital, and with his first conscious breath he cried aloud for
Karloff. He was told of the man's fate, and then made a full confession
of the plot to blow up the submarine. As for the accident that had
destroyed their own craft, he explained that Karloff, stooping to light
a cigarette, had ignited some leaked gasoline in the bilge. In a flash
the flames had reached the fuel tank, and an explosion that ripped the
boat apart followed.
For days the man lingered in the hospital, apparently contrite and
suffering great pain. But one night a drowsy nurse and an open window
aided him in a plan of escape that must have formed itself in his mind
some time before. In a weak voice he begged his police guard to get him
a drink of water. When the man came back, Berghoff had gone. Nor was he
ever heard of again. Whether he managed in some way to communicate with
his friends, or whether he gained financial resources to aid his escape
by robbery or other means, will never be known.
"Wa'al, I'm glad I stuck to that thousand," said Lem Higgins, when he
heard of the escape. "I'll git another boat now."
* * * * *
And so ends the tale of the Boy Scouts' services for Uncle Sam. Of
course, they remained on the island till the conclusion of the tests.
But they were molested no more, and so far as they were concerned
Berghoff and his evil designs ceased to exist. Their experiences had
proved of much value to them, and broadened and developed their
characters to a marked extent.
We shall meet our friends and fellow Scouts again in a succeeding volume
of this series, for strong, healthy lads like these cannot seem to help
meeting with adventures. When they face them in the true Scout spirit,
that of bravery mixed with brains, it is a combination hard to beat.
This new volume will be called "THE BOY SCOUTS AT THE PANAMA CANAL," and
will relate their experiences at the "Big Ditch," that remarkable
engineering achievement that is holding the interest and attention of
the entire world. The book will contain authentic photographs of the
canal in process of construction and include accurate descriptions of
the engineering feats.
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THE BOY ALLIES ON THE NORTH SEA PATROL; or,
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